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Join the informed writers of The Times' editorial board in lively discussions at our blog, Opinion Northwest.

Topic: smoking

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February 6, 2014 at 6:08 AM

Poll: Do you think drugstores should follow CVS’ decision to stop selling cigarettes?

There are no CVS chains in Washington right now, but the national drugstore giant’s decision Wednesday to stop selling tobacco in its 7,400 stores by October 2014 is a game-changing move that should force competitors to consider doing the same.

Here’s CVS Chief Executive Officer Larry Merlo’s message explaining why the company is letting go of an estimated $2 billion in tobacco sales.

Keep in mind the company can take this bold step because it is expanding its role and generating revenue as a health care provider.

According to this Associated Press story, Target is the only other big-name pharmacy in the U.S. to resist selling tobacco products.Will other major competitors such as Wal-Mart, Walgreens and Rite Aid do the same? They should.

Take this poll and share your opinion:

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Comments | More in Polls | Topics: cessation, cvs, smoking

January 22, 2014 at 6:03 AM

Still smoking? More illnesses linked to tobacco use

Tobacco use is the leading cause of preventable death in King County and Washington state. As the editorial board argued in this Jan. 13 editorial, smoking rates have declined, but wide health disparities persist between smokers and non-smokers. Here’s a previous Opinion Northwest blog post with charts illustrating the problem.

Smoking prevention and cessation efforts nationwide and in Washington should focus on populations more likely to smoke, including the less-educated, low-income, ethnic minority groups and people suffering from mental illness.

Last Friday, acting U.S. Surgeon General Boris Lushniak unveiled a new list of illnesses caused by smoking and tobacco use. The photos below are from the latest report’s executive summary. (Read this related news story in The Seattle Times.)

Health problems highlighted in red are new associations, including chronic diseases such as macular degeneration, congenital defects and orofacial clefts in babies, tuberculosis, diabetes, ectopic pregnancy, erectile dysfunction in men, rheumatoid arthritis and immunal dysfunction. The surgeon general also added liver and colorectal cancers to the list of consequences.

Screen Shot 2014-01-21 at 4.21.28 PM

Source: The Health Consequences of Smoking — 50 Years of Progress, U.S. Surgeon General

With regard to secondhand smoke, public health officials have added strokes in adults to the list of health consequences:

Source: The Health Consequences of Smoking — 50 Years of Progress, U.S. Surgeon General

Source: The Health Consequences of Smoking — 50 Years of Progress, U.S. Surgeon General

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Comments | Topics: health, smoking, tobacco

January 14, 2014 at 6:08 AM

5 charts about smoking in King County that will surprise you

U.S. Surgeon General Luther Terry holds a copy of the 387 page report of the Advisory Committe to the Surgeon General of the Public Health Service on the relationship of smoking to health Jan. 11, 1964. He spoke at a Washington news conference at which the study was released. It termed smoking a health hazard calling for corrective action. (AP Photo)

U.S. Surgeon General Luther Terry holds a copy of the 387-page report of the Advisory Committe to the Surgeon General of the Public Health Service on the relationship of smoking to health Jan. 11, 1964. He spoke at a Washington news conference at which the study was released. It termed smoking a health hazard calling for corrective action. (AP Photo)

Tuesday’s editorial in The Seattle Times focuses on the 50th anniversary of the U.S. Surgeon General’s report linking tobacco use to health risks. Please read it and help raise awareness about this public health crisis. Smoking is the leading cause of preventable death in King County and Washington state. And we can do something about it.

It doesn’t matter that about 88 percent of King County residents don’t use tobacco. We still have to worry about the 12 percent who do. They are the targets of the tobacco industry’s robust marketing campaigns. Low-income people are more likely to take up the habit, as are minorities and the less educated.

Nearly 4,800 kids take up smoking every year and 244,000 more minors are exposed to second-hand smoke at home. In Washington state, the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids reports 7,600 people die every year from tobacco use; about 124,000 under the age of 18 will die prematurely from smoking. Click on this link to see more disturbing statistics, including estimates that annual health care costs in Washington caused by smoking has reached nearly $2 billion.

Here are five charts from a 2012 King County Public Health Data Watch report that prove why further action is necessary to stamp out persistent tobacco use:

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Comments | Topics: king county, smoking, surgeon general