Scoot: Will CVS cigarette ban lead to fewer smokers?
by Scoot,posted Feb 5 2014 6:00PM
CVS, the nation’s second largest drugstore chain, announced that it will remove all tobacco products from its shelves by October because it wants to be a “full health care facility.”
As the major drugstores move toward being a bigger part of the nation’s healthcare system with walk-in clinics, CVS believed it was important to stop selling cigarettes and all tobacco products. This is a bold move considering that tobacco products generate about $2 million in annual sales for the company. After the announcement, CVS shares fell 1%, while its bigger competitor Walgreens’ shares went up 3.9% and Rite Aid rose 2%.
CVS is hoping to recoup the lost revenue removing all tobacco products from its stores by starting smoking cessation programs. An added benefit of the new policy on tobacco products may come from new customers who will be willing to choose CVS over other drugstores to support the company’s decision to ban tobacco products.
Smokers in America have progressively been relegated to second-class citizens, and there is virtually no threat of protest or backlash against any company that discourages access to cigarettes, even though cigarettes are a legal product for sale in the United States.
For the record, I am not a smoker, and I do not want to appear to be supporting the consumption of products that have a proven record of causing devastating health consequences, but as long as a product is legally sold in America and individuals make a conscious decision to consume products that cause health risks, I will adhere to my belief that individuals should have the power to make personal decisions.
Over the years, smoking cigarettes has become a disgusting habit that is considered by most to be anti-social. Smokers are now one of the easiest groups to attack without the fear a negative backlash.
If CVS is striving to establish an image as a full health care facility by banning all tobacco products, is it hypocritical for the company to continue to sell booze?
President Obama praised CVS by saying that the company’s decision will help the nationwide campaigns to reduce tobacco-related diseases and death. If CVS does not want to contribute to diseases and death, should the drugstore chain continue to sell beer, wine and liquor to alcoholics?
If the goal is to become a full health care facility, will CVS consider a ban on selling fattening items to any overweight person? Alcoholic products sold to an alcoholic can directly contribute to disease and death and the continued consumption of fattening foods can contribute to an array of diseases and death in people who become overweight.
Anyone could walk up and down the aisles of any CVS store and pick out countless items on sale that could lead to death. The primary reason the company is willing to stop the sale of tobacco products is because smokers in America are an easy target.
There is a strong belief that other major retail outlets will follow in the path of CVS and win the good will of the public by banning cigarettes. But are we so sure that banning the sale of cigarettes will actually cause people to stop smoking?
Dr. Richard Wender of the American Cancer Society is quoted in a Reuters news article saying, “Every time we make it more difficult to purchase a pack of cigarettes, someone quits.” Will Americans quit smoking or will those craving cigarettes resort to a more convenient black market to support their habit?
As a smoker, my dear mother battled lung cancer and had half of one of her lungs removed, so I do not support smoking and have seen first-hand the devastation it can cause. However, as long as cigarettes are legal, I have a difficult time supporting the banning of cigarettes while countless other products that are potentially hazardous to one’s health remain on sale.
Banning the sale of cigarettes at a retail outlet in the hopes of stopping smokers from lighting up is equivalent to trying to stop drug use by getting rid of all the dealers. That hasn’t worked out too well, has it?
About 18% of adults in America are smokers and that is down from 43% in 1965. Campaigns designed to convince people to quit smoking or to never start are vital and should continue, but with the belief that individuals should be free to make their own decisions, I can’t help but think that CVS banning the sale of cigarettes and all tobacco products may not accomplish the desired goal.
The battle to eliminate smoking and the use of tobacco products must be to find more creative ways to discourage young people from starting in the first place. Convincing someone not to start smoking seems more attainable than convincing someone to stop smoking!