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Today on The Pulse View All

CVS stores now tobacco-free, changes name to reflect health focus

The first national pharmacy chain to stop selling tobacco said all 7,700 stores had halted sales by Wednesday — about a month earlier than planned — and announced a name change from CVS Caremark to CVS Health to reflect its commitment to health.

CVS announced its tobacco-free plan in February, saying the profits are not worth the larger cost in public health. Smoking is the No. 1 cause of death in the U.S., killing 443,000 Americans and costing the nation $193 billion in healthcare expenses and lost productivity each year.

CVS Health also announced Wednesday a new “comprehensive and uniquely personalized smoking cessation program” developed by national experts.

“For our patients and customers, health is everything and CVS Health is changing the way health care is delivered to increase access, lower costs and improve quality,” Larry J. Merlo, president and CEO of CVS Health, said in a statement. “Along with the start of CVS Health, the sale of cigarettes and tobacco products at CVS/pharmacy ends today. By eliminating cigarettes and tobacco products from sale in our stores, we can make a difference in the health of all Americans.”

CVS expects to lose about $2 billion annually in tobacco sales, but the financial gain is outweighed by “the paradox inherent in promoting health while contributing to tobacco-related deaths.” CVS said in the Journal of the American Medical Association that the company is increasingly developing programs to improve the quality of care and reduce healthcare costs. American Heart Association CEO Nancy Brown, whose organization has worked to stop tobacco use for more than 50 years, praised the latest news.

“We congratulate CVS Health for having the courage to make this bold decision in the name of public health and for staying true to it,” Brown said. “Changing the company’s name to focus on health, and stopping tobacco sales a month ahead of schedule, speak volumes about this organization’s commitment.”

That commitment is important in the larger goal of ensuring Americans have healthy environments, she said.

“We are committed to helping create a culture of health, where the healthy choice is the default choice,” Brown said. “Taking these deadly products off the shelves sends a powerful message about the importance of healthy environments.”

Brown also praised Merlo’s participation in the American Heart Association CEO Roundtable, which itself is dedicated to healthier environments. The group includes 22 CEOs who are committed to creating healthy workplace cultures.

In 2010, the American Pharmacists Association urged pharmacies to stop selling tobacco and pushed state pharmacy boards to discontinue issuing and renewing licenses of pharmacies that sell these products.

Calls for banning tobacco products in pharmacies have also come from the American Heart Association, the American Medical Association, the American Cancer Society and the American Lung Association.

CVS is a pharmacy healthcare giant headquartered in Woonsocket, R.I., with employees in 45 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico. CVS Health has 7,700 retail pharmacies and 900 walk-in medical clinics.

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The School Day Just Got Healthier

It’s that time of year again!  Kids across the country are heading back to the classroom and we want to help ensure their minds and bodies are fueled with nutritious foods to support a successful education.

Fortunately, the health of today’s school environment continues to improve.  Thanks to the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act, cafeterias began offering school meals that meet updated nutrition standards last year.  School lunches and breakfasts now include more fruits, vegetables, and whole grains- and less sodium and unhealthy fats- and kids are adapting to the changes.  According to a recent study, 70 percent of schools reported that students seem to like their new lunches and 63 percent said students are no longer concerned about the new changes.

Now, it’s time for snacks sold in schools to get a healthy make-over too.  The ‘Smart Snacks in School’ standards took effect at the beginning of this school year, building on the progress made with school meals.  Foods and beverages sold in a la carte lines, snack bars, and vending machines, also known as ‘competitive foods’, must now meet strong nutrition standards as well.

For many schools, this is nothing new.  Thousands of schools had already found new ways of providing “smart snacks” for students – well in advance of updated federal lunch standards.  These schools serve as good examples that these changes can be made and embraced by students. 

So, how can you help make ‘Smart Snacks’ implementation successful for your child and your school district?  We know change is never easy.  Encouraging students to move away from sugary beverages and salty snacks will take some effort from schools and parents.  But it can be done and must be done for the health of today’s kids.  Join us!

1)      Do your homework- The United States Department of Agriculture has a host of resources to learn about the ‘Smart Snacks in School’ standards and the changes you can expect to see in your school district this year.  Take a look and help share them with fellow parents: 

2)      Get involved-

  • Ask your school administration about the changes that have been implemented in your district to improve nutrition.
  • Make time to join your child for lunch in the school cafeteria to see what is offered for meals and snacks.
  • When your child gets home from school, ask what was served and what (s)he ate for lunch.
  • Reinforce the healthier options your child has at school by serving healthier snacks and meals at home.
  • Be a role model. Let your child see you enjoying fruits, vegetables, and whole grains at meals and snacks.
  • Grocery shop together.  Talk about healthy choices and discuss where vegetables, fruits and grains, dairy and protein foods come from.

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Upcoming Event View All

  • Sep
    18

    Rally for Medical Research Virtual Hill Day!

    Thursday, 7:00 AM – 5:00 PM

    On September 17th and 18th, the American Heart Association will be joining over 80 organizations in our nation's capital to meet with our elected leaders! Our message will be simple: Prioritize funding for medical research done at the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Even if you are not in Washington, you can still participate from your own home. Below are a few was to get involved!

     

    • Get Social: Follow our You’re the Cure Facebook page to see which You're the Cure advocates will be representing the American Heart Association during the Hill Day!

     

    • Stay Tuned: As we approach the Rally for Medical Research Hill Day, keep an eye out for emails asking you to contact your member of Congress asking them to prioritize heart and stroke research.

     

     

     

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Advocate Stories View All

Ariel Walker Ohio

At 19, my life was totally normal for a college student.  Eat, sleep, class, repeat.  And then one day, my heart quit beating.  I was giving a final presentation in front of a class full of people when everything went dark.  When I woke up, I was on the floor with a paramedic looking at me.

It took almost 4 years to diagnose what had caused me to pass out.  I was lucky.  I had a mother who had worked in a hospital for 25 years, and a supportive partner who drove me four hours each direction every couple of weeks for tests.  For such a dramatic event, it was extremely difficult to convince doctors that anything was wrong with me.  I passed every test.  Most appointments ended with the explanation that I was probably passing out because I was thin and therefore probably not eating enough. 

However, with my mom’s stubbornness and understanding of the heath care system, I was able to get an appointment with a cardiologist who was willing to send me for a tilt-table test.  I laid strapped flat to a table for an hour and then they flipped me vertically to see what would happen.   As everyone waited to see if I would pass out, the surgeon suggested that if I switched my snacks to salted peanuts and Gatorade, I would probably be fine.  I don’t remember much after that because I did pass out, and my heart stopped beating. 

I had cardio-inhibitory vasovagal syncope and I would need a pacemaker to keep me from passing out in the future.  A million things raced through my mind, the first of which was relief… I finally had a diagnosis.  The second was, would I ever look good in a bikini with a pacemaker implanted in my chest.  A month later, I was in surgery: the only 24 year-old on the cardiology schedule. 

My surgery was not easy.  It was supposed to be less than 24 hours in the hospital and I ended up there for three days.  My body was going into shock every time the pacemaker tried to pace my heart.  I was sent for x-rays in a wheelchair and brought back in a gurney because I kept losing consciousness.  It was terrifying.  Not for me so much, I was just exhausted. But for my family who had to watch helplessly, it was a nightmare. 

What I didn’t realize at the time, and what is impossible to explain to someone who has never been in such a situation, is that I not only became aware of a problem that day, I also lost the ability to trust that my heart would ever beat the way it was supposed to.  We don’t think about our lungs allowing us to breathe or our heart pumping our blood. It just happens.  I can’t explain the sense of loss, or the fear that develops of your own body, but I can encourage people not to take it for granted. 

I am now on my second pacemaker and, although that surgery wasn’t easy either, I live a healthy and active life with my amazing husband and two dogs.  To give back, I also joined the Board of Directors for my local American Heart Association so that I can encourage others to live well and take care of their hearts.  A coronary event can happen to anyone, at any stage of life.  It is important to pay attention to what your body is telling you and seek a doctor’s care whenever your heath circumstances change.  Treat your heart with care and never take it for granted.

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