CVS made the right move in banning tobacco products

Published Mar 19, 2014 at 5:50 am (Updated Mar 18, 2014 at 9:18 am)

There’s really no way around it – smoking is a filthy, disgusting habit. It causes cancer, heart disease, stroke, and a slew of other health issues. Not to mention the smell – oh, the horrible, horrible smell. It sticks to clothing, furniture, walls – really everything that the smoke comes in contact with. And, the health risks do not end with the smoker.

Take babies who live in homes where someone smokes – not only do they have more ear infections and respiratory infections and a higher incidence of asthma than those who live in non smoking homes, but the risk of SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome) rises as well.

So, we were thrilled when drugstore chain CVS announced last month that it will stop selling tobacco products in its stores by Oct. 1 of this year. The landmark move makes CVS the first national pharmacy chain to stop the sale of tobacco products, and the projected annual loss in sales is estimated at a whopping $2 billion.

And, while CVS’s projected $2 billion annual loss is indeed a large number, it is a fraction of the company’s reported $123.1 billion in revenue in 2012. We would guess that companies lose a lot more money when their customers die.

Truly, the concept of pharmacies selling tobacco products is an oxymoron. The businesses that make their living by selling medicines, vitamins and other products for consumers to live a healthy lifestyle should not be selling something so blatantly dangerous as cigarettes. Consider, too, that many drug stores and pharmacies now offer walk-in, urgent care type clinics and vaccines such as the flu-shot, hepatitis, meningitis, pneumonia, shingles, chicken pox, tetanus, and even measles, mumps and rubella.

We wouldn’t expect to be able to purchase cigarettes in doctor’s offices or hospitals, so why should they be available at places that offer similar services?

On the heels of CVS’s announcement, attorney generals from 24 states and Washington, D.C., have sent letters to Walmart, Walgreens, Rite Aid and other major pharmaceutical retailers asking them to follow suit and stop selling tobacco products. No decision has been made by these other retailers, but we hope that they do the right thing and pull the products from their shelves.

We recognize that this move isn’t going to solve the nation’s tobacco problem, but if it deters just a few people to start smoking to begin with, or to finally quit, then it is worth all of the money in the world.

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