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National pharmacy chain CVS stops sale of tobacco

Somerset Co. pharmacy reacts 22 years after stopping tobacco sales

By: Jackalyn Kovac

MEYERSDALE, Pa. -- National pharmacy giant CVS announced Wednesday the company would stop selling tobacco products at its 7,600 stores.

The company says tobacco should not be sold where pharmacists and nurse practitioners work every day to help patients get well.

"They are working with our patients and our customers who have chronic conditions like high blood pressure and high cholesterol and diabetes," CVS Pharmacy President Helena Foulkes said. "And we know that smoking is extremely antithetical to helping people with their health care needs."

According to the U.S. Department of Health, smoking is the leading cause of premature disease and death in the United States. Currently 18 percent of adults smoke, a number that has decreased from 42 percent in 1965.

Twenty-two years ago, Thomas Drug Store, owned by retired pharmacist Adrian Thomas, in Meyersdale, Pa., stopped selling tobacco.

"It got to the point where I thought we have to do something. We were setting a double standard. We were filling prescriptions and helping people in the back of the store, and in the front of the store, we were killing people with tobacco products. Whether it was cigarettes, cigars, pipes or snuff, it was just wrong," Thomas said.

It's a decision Thomas is still proud of today.

"It's the best change we ever made. We were finally standing up and saying, 'We can't do this anymore. We are health professionals and we have to help people with their health,'" Thomas said.

Although Thomas no longer runs the Meyersdale pharmacy, he still does all he can to keep people healthy.

"They start [smoking] when they are 12 or 13 years old. By the time they are 35 or so they've given up the habit. Once that tar is in their lungs and stuff it just totally ruins them," Thomas said.

On Feb. 27, 1995, Thomas decided to burn his tobacco supply along with his license to sell the products.

"I'm glad to hear there is a chain store that is going to do what we did years ago," Thomas said.




 
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Edgar Snyder

Washington Times

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