National Public Health and Advocacy Groups Call on Family Dollar to Put Consumer Health Ahead of Profits and Reverse Its Decision to Sell Tobacco
WASHINGTON, May 22, 2012 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Approximately a dozen national public health and advocacy organizations are urging Family Dollar to reconsider its decision to sell tobacco products in its stores nationwide. In a letter today to the CEO of Family Dollar, the groups said the announcement "comes as a dire disappointment to the nation's public health community."
"Family Dollar's decision to sell tobacco goes up against the company's commitment 'to improve the quality of life of [its] customers and Team Members', given that tobacco is the No. 1 cause of preventable death in the United States," said Cheryl G. Healton, DrPH, President and CEO of Legacy®. "Selling tobacco at Family Dollar could heavily impact the lives of those Americans who already suffer disproportionately from tobacco's economic and health consequences," she added.
For years, the tobacco industry has deliberately marketed tobacco brands to low socio-economic and minority youth and adults. Smoking is greatest among adults with working class jobs, low educational levels, low income, and those who are unemployed – groups that comprise the very communities Family Dollar serves. Since Family Dollar stores mainly operate in neighborhoods with low-income and middle income families, the company has the potential to increase access to the nation's deadliest consumer product.
"Family Dollar Stores have traditionally served many Latino and minority communities around the country," said Dr. Jeannette Noltenius, the National Director of the National Latino Tobacco Control Network (NLTCN). "Selling tobacco products that have been proven to be addictive, that prematurely kill one of every three customers and are sold cheaply to youth creating new tobacco customers, would change the way Latinos perceive these stores, from a family friend to a family threat. We urge the owners and leadership of Family Dollar Stores to stop and think that this move will affect the health and lives of our communities and that they will be held accountable for expanding the access to these dangerous products just to make more money."
Legacy, a national non-profit organization best known for its truth® youth smoking prevention campaign, spearheaded the letter, which supports the efforts of Break Free Alliance and the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids to engage the public in reversing this "ill-advised policy." The American Academy of Pediatrics and a group comprising all living former U.S. Surgeons General, directors of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and secretaries of the U.S. Department of Health, Education and Welfare and Health and Human Services (Citizens' Commission to Protect the Truth) are just two of the national organizations that have signed on to the letter urging Family Dollar to reconsider its decision.
"While the company has defended its policy as a business decision based on customer demand, Family Dollar has the unique opportunity to stand out as a company that is committed to keep customers healthy by not selling tobacco products," Healton said. "In fact, market research reveals that 75 percent of its customers are non-smokers," she added.
Signing organizations include: The African American Tobacco Control Leadership Council, American Academy of Pediatrics; Appeal for Health; Association of State and Territorial Health Officials; Citizens' Commission to Protect the Truth; Legacy; National African American Tobacco Prevention Network; National Association of County and City Health Officials; National Association of Chronic Disease Directors; National Association of Local Boards of Health; National Latino Tobacco Control Network; North American Quitline Consortium; Partnership for Prevention; and Smoking Cessation Leadership Center, UCSF Department of Medicine.
Legacy helps people live longer, healthier lives by building a world where young people reject tobacco and anyone can quit. Legacy's proven-effective and nationally recognized public education programs include truth®, the national youth smoking prevention campaign that has been cited as contributing to significant declines in youth smoking; EX®, an innovative public health program designed to speak to smokers in their own language and change the way they approach quitting; and research initiatives exploring the causes, consequences and approaches to reducing tobacco use. Located in Washington, D.C., the foundation was created as a result of the November 1998 Master Settlement Agreement (MSA) reached between attorneys general from 46 states, five U.S. territories and the tobacco industry. To learn more about Legacy's life-saving programs, visit www.LegacyForHealth.org.
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