Saying it is "the right thing for us to do for our customers and our company to help people on their path to better health," the CEO of CVS Caremark announced Wednesday that the company's 7,600 pharmacies will stop selling cigarettes and tobacco products by Oct. 1.CVS claims that this move is consistent with their transition to a chain of wellness centers. Quietly they have placed medical clinics in their stores and are favoring that image and branding. Cigarette and tobacco sales are not consistent with that image. So, they are making a strategic move and foregoing $2 Billion in cigarette and tobacco sales of their $125 Billion in overall sales.
Rhode Island base CVS is the #2 in the pharmacy/convenience store category behind the Chicago base Walgreens chain. Walgreen has not made a similar announcement but, in reaction to the CVS announcement, did issue a statement saying they are evaluating their product offerings versus their customer wants and needs. President Obama reacted strongly and favorably to the CVS announcement, again per the NPR story:
"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."Overall, it is no doubt a good move for the company as they strive to change the image of the company. Will it help reduce smoking even more in this country? No doubt it will have some impact, how much is hard to predict and I am not sure can even be accurately measured a few years down the road.
Of course, I would not be writing about it if I did not have my own little spin on this. OK... ban cigarettes and tobacco. I last smoked a cigarette in December 31, 1989. My days of buying cigars and pipe tobacco from a store like CVS are also well in my past. They just do not carry the quality of cigars and pipe tobacco I puff on these days.
Beyond this I question a few things. Our CVS stores here in Chicagoland offer many other dangerous substances including beer, wine, and liquor. They carry all kinds of salty snacks. They care a wide variety of refined sugar products... products made with load of white sugar if you can believe it. If they are serious about their health image, they ought to stop carrying these kinds of products as well. Oreos probably are not good for us. They shouldn't be selling pork rinds or potato chips. Maybe they should stop carrying products such like
NyQuil as some holistic health mavens think this chemical cocktail does us more harm than good. Toothpaste contains fluoride crying out loud and antiperspirants all have aluminum in them!
Where will it all end? Not just with tobacco says I.