Heroin use has doubled since 2007 and the price has dropped. Heroin has killed more Americans than car accidents. And, since the beginning of the drug war, drug use has remained basically stable.
However, there is a drug more deadly than heroin that we have been remarkably successful in attacking.
The drugstore CVS did something, we hardly ever see any big corporation to do, they walk away from $2 billion. They’re going to stop selling cigarettes and other tobacco products by October 1st, because a company that consideres itself a health care provider shouldn’t be selling cigarettes, which cause half a million deaths every year.
Larry Merlo, CVS President and CEO said: “Every day we are helping millions of patients manage chronic conditions like high blood pressure, high cholesterol and diabetes. And all of these conditions are made worse by smoking.”
That announcement drew praise from President Obama.
Regarding CVS’s decision anti-smoking advocate, John Banzhaf said: “I think it was an important and courageous decision. In the long run, I think they’re going to make money out of it rather than losing. It’s going to help discourage smoking and help the 90 percent of smokers who want to quit to do so thereby saving taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars. It will put great pressure on other companies, other pharmacies to stop selling cigarettes or face inevitable legislation.”
The public health battle to lower rates of tobacco use and smoking related deaths has been one of the most successful policy battles of our time. The percentage of Americans over 18 who smoke has gone from 42 percent in 1965 to just 18 percent in 2012.
The surgeon general’s report in 1964 was important, but smoking went up in 1964, 1965 and 1966. But, when smoking was first restricted and then banned on airplanes, smoking rates started down. Gradually, it was legal action which has led the way, not Congress. Litigation, usually begins at the city level, then at the state level.
After banning smoking in workplaces and public places, taxation is the second most effective weapon against smoking. Taxation brings in money, but many states lack the political will to tax cigarettes at the same rate that they’re taxed in many westernized countries.
About 18 percent of adults are costing taxpayers $300 billion a year, or roughly $12,000 per smoker. Most taxpayers are sick and tired of it.