publication date: Apr. 18, 2014


By Paul Goldberg

Last week, a blistering opinion piece on The New York Times editorial page focused on the coziness of the relationship between the American Cancer Society and Walgreens.

The piece initially triggered criticism by ACS officials, but then—with no fanfare whatsoever—the society’s CEO called on the drug store chain, as well as others, to stop selling tobacco products.

ACS isn’t spinning this as a reaction to criticism, a change in policy, or a concession to critics. The policy continues to be what it has been, officials say. Yet, the letter specifically mentions the society’s benefactor Walgreens by name in a very public forum.

“The society, a leader for decades in scientific research and public education efforts focusing on the lifesaving effectiveness of tobacco control measures, has encouraged CVS and Walgreens to give up tobacco sales throughout the course of our relationship with both companies,” Seffrin wrote in a letter to the editor on the Times’ opinion page. “Walgreens—and all pharmacies—should stop selling tobacco, and we firmly believe that we will get further faster by working with the pharmacy industry rather than against it to end tobacco-related death and suffering.”

Seffrin’s letter was published a week after Peter Bach, a pulmonologist who directs the Center for Health Policy and Outcomes at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, wrote an editorial stating that the ACS reputation as “a vanguard of tobacco control efforts makes its support of Walgreens particularly sanitizing.”

Continue reading 40-16 The Walgreens Connection
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