CVS Caremark, the country’s largest drugstore chain in overall sales, announced in February that it planned to stop selling cigarettes and other tobacco products by October 2014. The company estimated that its decision would shave an estimated $2 billion in sales from customers buying cigarettes and other products, including incidental items like gum that might also be purchased. The company’s move was another sign of its metamorphosis from being a largely retail business into more of a health care provider, with stores offering mini-clinics and health advice to customers visiting its pharmacies.
As of January 2014, at least 1,182 college or university campuses in the U.S. have adopted 100% smoke-free campus policies that eliminate smoking in indoor and outdoor areas across campuses including residences. This number has doubled in size in the past few years and is expected to continue to climb as a result of the growing social norm supporting smoke-free environments and support from the academic community for policies supporting campus health and well being. Curbing tobacco influence on campuses could prevent a new group of lifetime smokers. Students are leading efforts by refusing tobacco industry sponsorship, grants, donations and other gifts. The uptick is also due to the efforts of the American College Health Association (ACHA) which adopted a Statement on Tobacco, as well as the social norm change about when and where people smoke as a result of city- and state-wide smoke-free laws. In fact:
- The majority of the U.S. population does not smoke.
- 49.1% of the U.S. population is protected by a 100% smoke-free workplace, restaurant, and bar laws.
- Most local and state laws do not include college campuses as they are considered private property, although some states include state schools in their smoke-free workplace laws.
The tobacco industry continues to market and advertise to young adults in order to remain profitable; the statistics regarding the prevalence and rise in tobacco use for young adults demonstrates that their plan is having its desired effect. Simply look at promotions held in bars near campuses across the country in order to realize how important 18-24 year olds are to the tobacco industry.
Since being introduced to the U.S. market in 2007, the electronic cigarette (E-cigarette) has become one of the fastest growing industries in the U.S. According to E-cigarette industry reports, sales are smoking hot, set to hit $1.7 billion. They have also become popular among 18-25 year olds, especially those who once smoked cigarettes, but have also attracted many who have never smoked. Students claim they should have the freedom to use electronic cigarettes on campus because they emit vapor, not harmful smoke, and do not effect bystanders. An electronic cigarette, or E-cig, is defined as a battery-operated device that creates a vapor that is inhaled instead of smoke. Specifically, the battery powers a heating element called an “atomizer” which contains nicotine-infused liquid. The liquid, when heated, turns into vapor.
New studies confirm that chemicals in electronic cigarettes pose minimal health risk; E-cigarette users can breathe a little easier today. A study just released by Drexel University School of Public Health confirms that chemicals in electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes) pose no health concern for users or bystanders. This is the first definitive study of e-cigarette chemistry and it found that there were no health concerns based upon generally accepted exposure limits.
Sitting in a car with a smoker is about as close to lighting up as a nonsmoker can get; many schoolchildren are exposed to secondhand smoke in this way according to an estimate by researchers at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. About 1 in 5 nonsmoking kids in middle and high school reported sharing a car with a smoker who had lit up within a week. The car is often the only source of exposure for some of these children; if that exposure is reduced, it’s definitely advantageous for their health. The American Academy of Pediatrics stated that any exposure to secondhand smoke is unsafe for kids. The latest report finds that nonsmoking kids’ exposure to secondhand smoke in cars has declined to 22.9 percent in recent years. Researchers suggest that laws barring smoking in many public places may be a factor. The Illinois legislature is currently debating legislature that would ban smoking in cars where children are present. Police officers who notice someone smoking in a vehicle with a minor cannot stop that vehicle solely for that reason and motorcycles and convertibles with their tops down would be exempt.
Many states and local governmental agencies are considering laws regarding all aspects of smoking from restricting sales of e-cigarettes to raising the age limit on purchasing tobacco products. Changes in attitudes about heath as well as economic pressures have continued to drive down the overall use of tobacco products in the United States.