By Lamia Kadir, M.D.
Private practice, Austin
For a split second, I just couldn’t believe it when I heard it. CVS Caremark, one of the largest pharmacies in America, stopped selling cigarettes and other tobacco products at its more than 7,600 stores. The move took effect October 2013.
The first chain of national pharmacies to take tobacco products off the shelves, their bold public health decision has been touted by the AAFP, AMA, American Cancer Society, and even President Barack Obama.
We, as family physicians, have known all along that tobacco products are deadly and that we have a tremendous opportunity to make a significant impact on the tobacco use behavior of Americans because nearly 70 percent of tobacco users see a physician each year. It’s all in our position statement at www.aafp.org/about/policies/all/tobacco-prevention.html.
The AAFP encourages its members and their practice teams to Ask all patients about tobacco use, then to Act by helping them quit. This easy-to-remember approach, Ask and Act, provides the opportunity for every member of a practice team to intervene at every visit.
Simple interventions include passing on a phone number. I give it to every smoker I meet. The Texas Tobacco Quit Line is free 1-877-YES-QUIT and affords your patient the opportunity to talk to a counselor or use the self-help website.
If you’re as excited as I am and motivated even further by CVS’s decision, the AAFP encourages all FPs to participate in community prevention programs, such as Tar Wars. Click here to find out more and take my pledge to get involved this year!
“We commend CVS for putting public health ahead of their bottom line and recognizing the need for pharmacies to focus on supporting health and wellness instead of contributing to disease and death caused by tobacco use,” the American Medical Association said. I couldn’t have said it better myself.