We all know that companies like to make money. That’s what they exist to do.
That’s why it’s so surprising — and noble — when a company says no to cash on moral grounds.
CVS Caremark operates nearby pharmacies in Oberlin, Elyria, Lorain, North Ridgeville, and Avon. The company announced last week that it will end all cigarette sales at its 7,600 stores across the United States by Oct. 1.
“This is the right thing to do,” the announcement read.
“The sale of tobacco products is inconsistent with our purpose – helping people on their path to better health,” a release on the company’s website said Wednesday.
CVS claims it will take a $2 billion hit to sales. The company made $123 billion in 2012, to put that in perspective, but how often do you see a company decline to make any billion at all?
We’ve focused a lot in the past year on the deadly threat heroin has posed in our county and on the debate over the merits of marijuana legalization.
But tobacco is a conversation that’s slipped under the radar. It’s normalized. It’s not “sexy” anymore.
That perception should change. In a new report from the U.S. Surgeon General’s office, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius calls tobacco an “immense burden to our nation,” an epidemic that will cause the premature deaths this year of nearly 500,000 Americans.
The total economic cost of tobacco is $289 billion, she said. And if nothing changes, 5.6 million children will face premature deaths as a result of smoking.
It’s been 50 years since the landmark 1964 Surgeon General report on smoking’s link to health. Smoking among adults in that time has fallen from 42 percent of the population to 18 percent in 2012.
Conscientious moves by companies such as CVS can help that rate decline even further.
This should, however, only be a start.
We want to see Discount Drug Mart, Rite Aid, Walgreens, and other pharmacies follow suit. Then we can tackle homeopathic “remedies” that have no scientific merit and shouldn’t share shelf space with medicine.
Of course, the problem becomes where to draw the line. Alcohol has its problems but can help heart health. Donuts are my sin of choice and are arguably as bad as cigarettes. Soda and saturated fats bring their own demons to the table.
How far do we want to go? You tell me.