EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

Merrimack Valley

February 7, 2014

CVS policy draws praise

LAWRENCE — Diane Knight, director of the locally-based Northeast Tobacco Free Community Partnership, is overjoyed at the news that CVS Caremark is going to stop selling cigarettes and other tobacco products at its 7,600 drug stores nationwide by Oct. 1.

But, Knight, who works with local boards of health and other agencies in 49 communities in northeast Massachusetts, including in the Merrimack Valley, said there is more that has to be done to end the spread of smoking - especially among impressionable youths.

She pointed out the inherent contradiction selling cigarettes in pharmacies, which are a main source of health car information for people.

“Tobacco sales suggest a compatibility with health, and we all know that is not true,” she said yesterday.

She hopes the decision by CVS this week will motivate the other pharmacy chains to do the same.

“I certainly would expect that it would be a conversation at their board meetings,” said Knight, who is a nurse. Her agency works with the Greater Lawrence Family Health Center and receives funding from the Massachusetts Department of Public Health.

She noted that 80 communities in Massachusetts, including Haverhill, Middleton, Salem and Gloucester already ban the sale of cigarettes in pharmacies.

Andover resident Anna Gikow said yesterday she approved of the decision by CVS.

“The cigarette trend is fizzling and the healthy living trend will always be in,” she said.

The Woonsocket, R.I.-based company is the first national pharmacy chain to “step up” and ban the harmful products from all of its stores.

Gikow said she is not a smoker. Some have criticized the move saying people should be able to make their own decisions on what products they buy, but Gikow disagrees.

“CVS is not taking away the choice to smoke. There are plenty of other convenience stores that sell cigarettes that I fully expect to continue with that practice. If the gym doesn’t sell fast food next to the workout equipment, why should CVS sell tobacco next to the minute clinic?,” Gikow said.

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