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N.J. congressman calls on all chain drug stores to stop selling tobacco products

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CVS Caremark, one of the country's largest drug store chains, made headlines in February after it announced that come October it would be halting the sale of tobacco products at more than 7,600 stores nationwide, including over 220 locations in New Jersey.

On Tuesday, U.S. Rep. Frank Pallone (D-Long Branch) announced that alongside 11 other Democratic members of the House Energy and Commerce Health Subcommittee, he's calling on all chain drug stores across the country to follow suit.

"Smoking is the leading cause of preventable death in the United States," Pallone said. "Removing tobacco products from the shelves of local pharmacies shows a real commitment to improving the health of consumers. We have a responsibility to protect our young people and making these harmful products less available is an important step in the right direction."

Pallone argues that chain drug stores are a vital component of the nation's health care system and thus, should be instrumental in curbing tobacco use.

In a letter addressed Tuesday to National Association of Chain Drug Stores president Steven Anderson, Pallone and the other signing Democrats urged member retailers to stop the sale of all tobacco products in their stores, touching on the 50th anniversary of the first Surgeon General's report on smoking and health as an item to consider.

CVS' move received praise at the time from members of New Jersey's health care community. Hackensack University Health Network president Bob Garrett said then that while tobacco products generate billions in revenue, the company made a "bold statement that it values the health of its consumer base more than its profit margin."

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Andrew George

Andrew George

Andrew George covers the Statehouse from NJBIZ's Trenton bureau. Born and raised in N.J., Andrew has also spent time as a reporter in D.C., Texas and Pa. His email is andrewg@njbiz.com and he is @AndrGeorge on Twitter.

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