Two Cheers for CVS’s Decision to Stop Selling Cigarettes

the drugstore chain CVS is giving up on smokes. As Reason 24/7 reported earlier

CVS Caremark pharmacies will phase out tobacco in U.S. retail
stores by Oct. 1, officials announced Wednesday, saying that
selling cigarettes side-by-side with medicine undermines the
mission of promoting good health.

The chain will lose about $2 billion in revenues annually from
sales of tobacco in its 7,600 stores, but CVS Pharmacy president
Helena Foulkes said it just makes sense for a firm now positioning
itself as a health care company. 

The company’s president Helena Foulkes explains:

“It was very important to us that, as we’re working with doctors
and hospital systems and health plans, that they see us as an
extension of their services,” Foulkes said. “It’s virtually
impossible to be in the tobacco business when you want to be a
health care partner to the health care system.”

Read more here.

I think it’s great whenever
a business takes steps to implement its vision of social
purpose. For sure, there are real questions about just
how health-conscious CVS really is. “Good,” explains a fake
interviewee in

The Onion
. “I don’t want cigarettes sold in the same
place I get my flu shot, Red Bull, and mini-donuts.”

The freedom to sell what you want – or not – is a marvelous
thing and should be applauded whenever it’s exercised. I have no
idea whether it’s a good idea from a stockholder point of view, or
even from a customer point of view. I only hope that right-wingers
and left-wingers recognize that choice – for the business owner,
the customer, the employee – is key. We should all be allowed to do
more things than the government currently allows. And to bear the
costs of those decisions, including negative (or positive) feedback
about those choices. Restaurants should be allowed to permit
smoking if they want, for instance, or ban it. Photographers should
be allowed
to decline offers
to cover marriages of which they don’t
approve. Homeowner associations should be allowed to enforce all
sorts of stupid rules and townfolk should be allowed to grow
front-yard gardens
on their own damn property

The point is that we should let people make more decisions about
their lives, their loves, and their businesses. And live with their

from Hit & Run

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