Public health achieved a huge win recently, as CVS pharmacy removed tobacco products from its stores nationwide, becoming the first major pharmacy retailer to go tobacco-free. On behalf of the Louisiana Campaign for Tobacco-Free Living, a program of the Louisiana Cancer Research Center and administered by the Louisiana Public Health Institute, I congratulate CVS for leading the way in helping our communities to make healthier choices.

Pharmacies are part of our health care system, and it is counterintuitive to sell tobacco products in a place where patients go to get well and purchase tobacco cessation treatments. Tobacco is the leading preventable cause of death in the U.S., causing more than 480,000 deaths each year. By removing tobacco products from its shelves and replacing them with medications to help smokers quit, pharmacies have the opportunity to save thousands of lives. We hope other retailers will follow the lead of CVS.

Quitting tobacco is the most important thing smokers can do to improve their health and quality of life. Louisiana offers free smoking cessation help through the Louisiana Tobacco Quitline ((800) QUIT-NOW or www.quitwithusla.org). Residents who started smoking before Sept. 1, 1988, can register with the Smoking Cessation Trust (www. smokingcessationtrust.org) for additional counseling and medications. We encourage all tobacco users to take advantage of these free services.

Tonia Moore

associate director, Louisiana Campaign for Tobacco-Free Living

New Orleans