A good cigarette just doesn't exist
CVS justly has won widespread praise for its decision to stop selling tobacco products in its 7,600 stores.
Even though smoking is in decline, it still is responsible for 480,000 deaths a year, according to federal statistics. CVS is on the mark in concluding that, as a health care provider, it should not sell a product tied to the nation's leading cause of death.
While applauding the decision, many health care advocates noted that CVS has not decided to bar the sale of e-cigarettes, even though it does not sell them now.
Asked by Scientific American about its intentions regarding e-cigarette sales, CVS responded: "We are monitoring what the FDA decides in regard to them."
E-cigarettes simulate smoking by vaporizing a nicotine-infused solution into a mist that is inhaled by the user.
The devices have been growing in popularity and because they are not regulated by the FDA, they legally can be marketed in ways that are proscribed for cigarettes. In a few markets, for example, local advertisements for the products appeared during the Super Bowl broadcast. And there is no ban on marketing to teenagers.
The Pennsylvania Medical Society is among the most ardent opponents of e-cigarette use, characterizing them as a "health care threat."
"Electronic cigarettes are not regulated, are not FDA-approved for medical use, and contain nicotine - an addictive chemical also found in tobacco," says Dr. Bruce MacLeod, society president.
The society has proposed state legislation to treat e-cigarettes exactly like a tobacco product.
The Legislature should enact such a law. And the FDA should take regulatory authority over e-cigarettes, which likely would prompt CVS, and some other retailers, to not introduce young people to the addictive power of nicotine.