cartoon by Chan Lowe, South Florida Sun Sentinel

CVS to stop selling cigarettes (February 9, 2014)

It’s only fair to commence this screed with a disclosure of personal bias: I’m not thrilled with my local neighborhood CVS store. I wasn’t a fan back when it was an Eckerd Pharmacy, either. Regardless of who owns the place, the waiting times at the prescription counter can rival those for the rides at the Magic Kingdom.

 

The problem recurs at the main checkout area, where inadequate staffing forces disgruntled shoppers to queue back into the Seasonal Promotions aisle. I have grumbled to other victims/customers over the last several years, and we agree that proximity to our homes is the only reason we tolerate the experience.

 


Photos: Models on the catwalk of Miami Swim Week

Nevertheless, any time a corporation chooses to do the right thing by setting an example, it should be encouraged. That this encouragement should come from a dissatisfied customer like me makes it all the more meaningful. CVS has announced that, later this year, it will cease selling cigarettes — a product known to shorten people’s lives. Way to go, CVS.

 

Rival Walgreens has yet to follow suit. That company claims that dropping tobacco products would take too much of a bite out of its profit margin. So be it. Corporations exist to make money for their shareholders, and if they are nominally in the health care business, saving or prolonging lives is secondary. It’s how our system works.

 

Before we go and place a crown of laurels over CVS’ corporate logo, however, we should remember that this latest move is intended to trumpet its mission creep from mere retailer to multi-service health care provider. That’s not a negative; it’s just an instance where the perceived interests of the company and the public happen to dovetail.

 

After the cigarette announcement, CVS’ value dropped on the New York Stock Exchange, while Walgreens’ increased. In the long run, though, the positive feelings generated by this decision may well pay off with a more benevolent corporate image, which translates favorably at the cash register.

 

Yes, CVS’ new no-butts policy is a commendable act, but if the company really wants to impress me, it’ll do something to shorten those lines.