A healthy decision by CVS

Published 11:10 pm Friday, February 7, 2014

I applaud the decision of CVS Pharmacy to stop selling cigarettes and tobacco products in its 7,600 stores nationwide, effective this fall. The pharmacy chain will reportedly forfeit more than $1 billion per year in revenue from tobacco sales, and it is challenging other retailers to follow suit. I wish they would.

I have nothing against smokers, but I despise smoking and everything about it, and I hate that cigarette companies and retailers earn a fortune from cigarettes, while those who are addicted to them pay the price in its effects on their health.

Smoking is harmful, unhealthy, dangerous and debilitating. As a retired U.S. Navy veteran who worked in naval hospitals and clinics for 20 years, I saw the health problems associated with smoking — chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, pulmonary edema, asthma and far more. Patients that had been smokers were hospitalized for longer, and some didn’t live.

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The health risks of smoking (including secondhand smoke inhaled for extended periods of time) include stunted development; impotence or sterility; low birth weight; birth defects and miscarriage; cancer of the lung, bone marrow, blood, bladder, cervix, kidneys, mouth, larynx, trachea, nose, throat, esophagus, pancreas and stomach; coronary heart disease; cataracts; gum disease; and tooth loss — and the list from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention goes on.

I am so glad that my brother, also a retired U.S. Navy veteran, quit smoking after being a chain smoker for a decade or two.

We have smoking cessation programs in hospitals and other facilities that promote health, fitness and well-being. Smokers should avail themselves of these programs. Quitting smoking now can add years to your life and life to your years.

It is never too late to quit smoking. You can be a role model for your family and friends. Set a good example for others to follow. Stop smoking, and use your money to buy nutritious food for yourself and your family. Or save it for a rainy day.

Here are some more facts on the health effects of cigarette smoking, according to the CDC’s Office on Smoking and Health:

  • Cigarette smoking is the leading preventable cause of death in the United States.
  • Cigarette smoking causes more than 440,000 deaths each year in the United States, accounting for about one in five deaths.
  • Smoking causes more deaths each year than HIV, illegal drugs, alcohol, motor vehicle crashes and firearms, combined.
  • Smoking causes about 90 percent of all lung cancer deaths in men and 80 percent of all lung cancer deaths in women. More women die from lung cancer each year than from breast cancer.
  • About 90 percent of all deaths from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease are caused by smoking.
  • Smokers are more likely than non-smokers to develop heart disease, stroke and lung cancer.

Chris A. Quilpa, a longtime resident of Suffolk, is a retired U.S. Navy veteran. E-mail him at chris.a.quilpa@gmail.com.