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CVS Health quits US Chamber over its stance on smoking

Ash Tray-CigaretteLike eating in restaurants that aren’t smoke-filled? The US Chamber of Commerce* is now part of a global lobbying campaign working to undo the no smoking legislation that make it safe (and let’s face it, less stinky) to eat in restaurants.

The following article, written by Danny Hakim with the New York Times, appeared in the July 8, 2015 StarTribune:

CVS Health Corp. said Tuesday that it was resigning from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce after revelations that the chamber and its foreign affiliates were undertaking a global lobbying campaign against anti-smoking laws.

CVS, which stopped selling tobacco products in its stores last year, said the lobbying activity ran counter to its mission to improve public health.

“We were surprised to read recent press reports concerning the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s position on tobacco products outside the United States,” David R. Palombi, a CVS senior vice president, said in a statement. “CVS Health’s purpose is to help people on their path to better health, and we fundamentally believe tobacco use is in direct conflict with this purpose.”

The New York Times reported last week that the chamber and its vast network of foreign affiliates had targeted restrictions on smoking in public spaces, bans on menthol and slim cigarettes, advertising restrictions, excise tax increases, plain packaging and graphic warning labels, often in developing countries. The chamber’s efforts have put it in direct opposition to the World Health Organization’s efforts to curb tobacco use. Thomas J. Donohue, the head of the chamber, has been personally involved in the campaign.

The campaign also runs counter to efforts by some of its members. Four health care companies that serve on its board — Anthem, the Health Care Service Corp., the Steward Health Care System of Boston and the Indiana University Health system — all support anti-smoking programs.

The chamber has defended its efforts around the globe, saying it is about defending its members’ business interests.

“To be clear, the chamber does not support smoking and wants people to quit,” it said in a statement. “At the same time, we support protecting the intellectual property and trademarks of all legal products in all industries and oppose singling out certain industries for discriminatory treatment.”

In a statement Tuesday morning, Anthem said that it “has shared its strong, long-standing position with the chamber and will continue to address our concerns with the chamber directly.”

You can read the original post here.