New Year, New You: CVS Pulls Tobacco Products

Roni Shye
Roni Shye, PharmD BCGP BCACP, is a licensed pharmacist in the states of Florida, Ohio, and Pennsylvania.
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It’s no secret that tobacco can cause cancer, especially since the tobacco manufacturers are required to put that information on the label. However, 43.8 million adults (1 in 5 people) currently smoke cigarettes according to the American Cancer Society. And cigarettes are not the only tobacco product that Americans use—a survey from 2010 conducted by the US Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration found that 8.9 million people used smokeless or spit tobacco. The same survey reported that 13.2 million smoked cigars, and 2.2 million people smoked tobacco in pipes.

Starting this year, the American Lung Association has created an initiative called the State of Tobacco Control which issues an urgent call to action to policymakers across the country to reverse their present course and commit to eliminating tobacco-caused death and disease.

Now, national retail pharmacy chain CVS plans to remove all tobacco products from their stores by October 1, 2014. This bold move comes at a perfect time, especially with the policymaker initiative in place. CVS will be the first national chain of pharmacies to do away with tobacco products on their shelves, and hopefully NOT the last.
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With that being said, CVS will continue to stock tobacco cessation products (nicotine patches, gum—anything used to help you quit). There are several over-the-counter and prescription medications, as well as behavioral changes, that can be used to help you kick the habit.

First, what does tobacco cessation mean?

Tobacco cessation (also known as smoking cessation) is the process of discontinuing the use of tobacco products. This can range from cigarettes to smokeless tobacco, and anything in between. Tobacco products contain a mix of more than 7,000 chemicals according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Tobacco cessation products may contain nicotine, but typically do NOT contain any tobacco.

What types of tobacco cessation products are available without a prescription from my doctor?

Products available over the counter (OTC) that do not require a doctor’s prescription include nicotine gums, lozenges, and patches. These are nicotine replacement products and primarily work by gradually decreasing your daily intake of nicotine.

What types of tobacco cessation products require a prescription from my doctor?
  •  Zyban (bupropion SR)

  •  Chantix (varenicline)

  •  Nicotrol nasal spray (nicotine)

  •  Nicotrol inhaler (nicotine)

  •  Nortriptyline
  •  Clonidine
What are some behavioral therapies that can help in quitting tobacco?

Behavioral therapies that can help with quitting include clinical intervention; counseling, either individually, with a group, over the telephone, or online; behavioral cessation therapies; or aggressive face-to-face contact and intensity with a counselor.

Are there online or over-the-phone services that can help?

There are, along with several resources for more information:

What are some experimental tobacco cessation solutions?

There are a variety of experimental cessation solutions out there including but not limited to acupuncture, hypnotism, ear stapling/clips, massage therapy, yoga, meditation, and silver acetate containing products. You may want to discuss any experimental options with your health care provider.

What are e-cigarettes and can they help me quit smoking?

E-cigarettes (or e-cigs) are electronic cigarette devices that vaporize nicotine and non-nicotine products for inhalation. Manufacturers of e-cigs claim that their products are a “healthy” alternative to actual smoking; however, these claims have not been approved by the FDA. Check out the FDA current stance on e-cigs here.
What are some other important resources for current smokers who want to quit?
  •  CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention): Smoking & Tobacco Use
  •  FDA 101 on Smoking Cessation Products
  •  Mayo Clinic: Create a Quit-Smoking Plan
  •  American Cancer Society: Prescription Drugs for Quitting Smoking


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