Thumbs Up to Larry Merlo, President and Chief Executive Officer of CVS Health. He writes, “Getting rid of tobacco taught us an important lesson. We hope our journey inspires other businesses.” Read his op-ed

Thumbs Down to Meharry Medical College, an historically black university, for accepting a $7.5 million grant from JUUL, one-third owned by Philip Morris (the makers of Marlboro), for industry-funded research at its Center for the Study of Social Determinants of Health. This is especially problematic given the tobacco industry’s history of funding such research and making funds available to certain under served populations. In an era of tobacco divestment efforts in light of past tobacco industry behaviors leading to a RICO violation, particularly for universities seeking research funds, e-cigarette industry funding should be rejected by a health-focused institution as well. Read more

Thumbs Up to Texas, Mississippi, and Kentucky for their passage of strong local smokefree laws in 2018. ANRF recognized them all in August. Read more

Thumbs Down to Juul for hearkening back to the failed “We Card” program with their reaction to Michigan Governor Whitmer’s order to end the sale of flavored e-cigarettes. Juul states: “Under Juul Labs’ Retail Access Control Standards (RACS) program, a point-of-sale system at retail immediately locks when a Juul product is scanned and remains locked until a retailer electronically scans a valid, of-age government-issued ID to verify both the age and the ID validity.”

Scanning in people’s identification is likely intended to build databases and user profiles versus merely checking the user’s age. ID scanning is a specific tactic used by tobacco companies in the past such as Marlboro promotion nights at bars. Tobacco representatives scanned ID cards in exchange for free gifts, and added their names and addresses to mailing lists and databases. Read more