CVS tobacco cessation: a victory for consumer health

Emily Meringolo, Writer

Effective Oct. 1, CVS will no longer sell or carry cigarettes or tobacco products in their stores. While it is definitely a bold move for one of the United States’ largest pharmaceutical companies and retailers to actively ban tobacco products, I view it as a significant measure in encouraging Americans to quit smoking. CVS’ recent decision is certainly one example of the private industry humanizing itself and aligning with the values espoused by non-profit organizations and medical associations looking out for the health and well-being of all Americans.

CVS Caremark reported that it will take an annual loss of $2 billion from tobacco shoppers: $1.5 billion in tobacco sales, and the rest from other products tobacco shoppers purchase while in the store. While most tobacco users will simply take their business elsewhere, there is something to be said for a corporation that promotes consumer health above shareholder profits.

Good for you CVS; you’re truly setting an example. But will you also stop selling foods with harmful trans fats or 2.5 liter diet sodas because they are arguably just as bad in the long run for the health of your loyal customers? This might just be far-fetched pipe dream, but perhaps there was simply a deal gone wrong, or a foreseeable increase in the wholesale price in tobacco products which could be easily avoided if the company simply stopped selling these products altogether. It remains a mystery.

The CEO of the CVS Corporation told CNN that “put simply, the sale of tobacco products is inconsistent with our purpose.” This move creates a wholesome image for the company and has introduced the idea that it could possibly create a ripple effect on other companies. Perhaps it could, or perhaps the other tobacco retailers will revel in their increased tobacco sales. The CVS in Lewisburg will surely lose some business, but there will always be sick University students funding CVS’ primary cash cow: the pharmacy in the back. The only difference being that now people will not be able to grab a pack as they pick up their various pharmaceutical needs.

President Barack Obama praised both America and CVS.

“As one of the largest retailers and pharmacies in America, CVS Caremark sets a powerful example, and today’s decision will help advance my administration’s efforts to reduce tobacco-related deaths, cancer, and heart disease, as well as bring down health care costs–ultimately saving lives and protecting untold numbers of families from pain and heartbreak for years to come,” Obama said.

Kudos, CVS.

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