CVS, a huge American drug retailing company with its own U.S. pharmacy chain, has taken a strong stance today by announcing its termination of the sale of all tobacco products in its approximately 7,600 stores. By October of this year, the business will have all stores discontinue sales of tobacco products in order to further its goal of helping people stay healthy.
Despite forgoing nearly $2 billion of its annual revenue, CVS Chief Executive Larry Merlo said in a recent statement, “Put simply, the sale of tobacco products is inconsistent with our purpose.”
Both consumers and investors have made positive remarks on Twitter about the company’s landmark change. CVS even received a positive comment from President Obama, describing the decision as one that will save lives and lower health care costs.
However, the debate has surfaced that if CVS discontinues the sale of tobacco products on the grounds that they’re unhealthful, why isn’t it also renouncing the sale of jumbo candy bars, strange dietary supplements and malt liquor? And, after all, if someone wishes to buy cigarettes, they just have to pay a visit to one of the company’s nearby competitors instead.
But CVS has not been shy about wanting to send a positive message to American consumers who have to choose between all of the selections in the competitive pharmacy marketplace. By going through with this change, CVS indicates it is striving for a connection that goes beyond commerce, to the person’s life and lifestyle.
As the only drugstore chain larger than CVS, Walgreens has been active in promoting healthy living. With discounts based on how much its customers walk or work out daily through a smartphone app, Walgreens works to also tie its loyalty program to customers’ health goals. It will be interesting to watch if Walgreens follows suit with a tobacco-products ban.
According to government statistics, nearly half of all U.S. smokers attempt each year to kick their unhealthy habit. Although that’s 22 million tobacco customers who will praise CVS’s recent decision, 81 percent of U.S. adults don’t smoke and will remain unaffected.