Washington, DC 5 February – In a statement to Bustle news outlet ASH Executive Director Laurent Huber had the following to say about the recent CVS decision:
I don’t have any insight in CVS’ decision beyond what they have said publicly, but my opinion is that it was made for more than one reason. There certainly has been pressure on drug stores to stop selling tobacco products, ranging from letters from public health groups like ASH to individual’s standing outside entrances with signs. But this pressure should not take away from the accolades due to CVS for making this bold decision. CVS’ desire to end the hypocrisy of a health provider selling tobacco seems genuine, and I applaud them.
This voluntary decision by CVS is in line with what is being done through legislation in other countries, including Alberta, Canada which banned tobacco sales at health care facilities, public post-secondary campuses, pharmacies, and stores that contain a pharmacy in 2009. It follows Target’s decision to stop selling tobacco in the mid 1990s.
In terms of the costs and benefits of the decision, I personally believe that the $2 billion in lost revenue will be more than made up for in other ways. CVS has plans to become a major provider of cessation services. The vast majority of smokers want to quit and most have tried. A drug store that offers nicotine replacement therapy and other cessation help without the temptation of tobacco products will be very helpful for someone trying to beat addiction. It may become the “go to” store for millions of current quitters and former smokers.
The decision has been widely reported in national news, and this will garner CVS widespread good will. Almost everyone has lost a loved one to tobacco. Many people that have a choice may switch their patronage (and their prescriptions) to CVS.
At ASH we will use CVS’ example to pressure other retailers to drop tobacco from their offerings. Tobacco is the only consumer product that kills when used exactly as intended. It is not a legitimate produce in commerce, and those that sell it bear some responsibility for millions of lives lost each year.