CVS to Stop Selling Tobacco Products, Lung Cancer Plaintiff Wins $5 Million

Lung cancer attorneys at Pintas & Mullins Law Firm report on two recent developments in the tobacco litigation fight. First, in a surprising and immensely important move, CVS Caremark just announced it will begin phasing out tobacco products, including cigarettes, cigars and chewing tobacco, which will be completed by October 1, 2014.

In related news, a jury recently decided that R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. should pay the family of a former smoker $5 million for being partially responsible for the woman’s lung cancer and ultimate death. The woman’s two children, who lost their mother when she was only 57, filed the lawsuit against R.J. Reynolds. The siblings argued that their mother had a sixth grade education and could not cognitively discern the truth from the company’s aggressive and ingenious marketing ploys.

The family of Georgia Cheeley also argued that Reynolds knew that cigarettes were addictive, caused lung cancer, and hid these dangers from consumers. The jury ultimately decided that R.J. Reynolds and Cheeley were equally to blame for the woman’s death, and awarded the siblings $5 million for the loss of their mother’s guidance and companionship and her pain and suffering.

Florida has become a hot-bed of litigation after the state’s Supreme Court ruling in 2006 that allowed individual litigation to continue against tobacco companies. There are currently thousands of cases like the Cheeley’s pending in Florida courts. The cases that have already concluded have yielded hundreds of millions in plaintiff’s favor.

CVS Kicks the Habit

In a bold move, the nation’s second-largest drugstore chain recently announced it will stop selling all tobacco products. Phase-out will begin immediately and the process is expected to be completed by October 2014. This will apply to all of its 7,600 stores nationwide.

The phase-out will cost the chain about $2 billion in annual revenue, however the company believes that removing tobacco products will help the brand focus more on providing healthcare services. CVS plans to work more closely with hospitals, nurses, and doctors to improve public health through various programs.

Among these planned programs include adding more Minute Clinic-type services and helping people manage chronic conditions like diabetes and high cholesterol. The drug store is also anticipating a rapidly aging population. According to the federal Administration on Aging, by 2030, there will be over 72 million older persons (65+), which is more than twice the 2000 number.

In order to keep up with the growing population, CVS and other drug stores are having pharmacists and nurses at their locations provide more immunization services and treat minor conditions such as sinus infections. Ultimately, the company decided that cigarettes and other tobacco products had no place in their healthcare-oriented setting.

Some wonder what will take cigarette’s place in the shelves behind check-out counters. The company does not have an official answer to this but many believe the space will be used to expand smoking cessation products. CVS will also start training its pharmacists on how to counsel people trying to quit.

President Obama said he applauded CVS’s concerted effort to better public health and reduce tobacco-related deaths, heart disease, and cancer rates. This will also help lower national healthcare costs. The FDA estimates that tobacco products take about 480,000 deaths in the U.S. every year.

Last month, the U.S. Surgeon General released a 980-page report detailing the illnesses directly caused or related to cigarettes. Among the diseases causally linked to tobacco use were liver and colon cancer, diabetes, tuberculosis, and of course lung cancer. The Surgeon General’s report also officially recognized that filtered, or “light” cigarettes, may actually increase the risk of lung cancer. This is due to the additional chemicals and carcinogens in the ventilated filters.

A spokesperson for Walgreens recently stated that it continues to evaluate its tobacco product sales. Other major retailers who refuse to sell cigarettes and similar products include Target and most independent pharmacies throughout the country. Pharmacies in Boston and San Francisco are legally banned from selling tobacco products.

Our team of lung cancer lawyers congratulates CVS Caremark on its landmark decision, and will continue to report on developments as they arise. If you or someone you love was diagnosed with lung cancer as a result of cigarettes or exposure to another harmful substance like asbestos, contact our firm immediately. Our case reviews are completely free of charge and available to potential clients nationwide.

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