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16 February 2014

CVS tobacco decision sets bold example

CVS Caremark made a groundbreaking announcement on Feb. 5 when it decided to become the first national pharmacy to stop selling tobacco products.

I wouldn’t doubt that as a huge chain with three locations within a mile of campus, CVS is a frequent stop for student smokers looking to purchase their tobacco products. But now if people can’t buy their cigarettes at CVS, they will just purchase them elsewhere.

The CVS decision alone will have little effect on changing habits, but my hope is that this is the beginning of a movement for other pharmacies around the country, as well as on our own campus.

Similar to the campus’s new smoke-free policy instituted in the fall – which has triggered heated debate, blatant ignoring of the policy and even protests ­– the decision of CVS will not change people’s habits.

I, and many others, unapologetically despise smoking and the tobacco industry in general. I am glad CVS is taking the initiative to preserve the health of its customers and to stop supporting an industry that has targeted teenagers and college students for years.

The dangers of tobacco products, including preventable lung cancer and its addictive qualities, as well as the effects of second-hand smoke, have been public knowledge for years. And while for a period of time individuals had resigned to accepting that people will smoke despite all of these issues, evidently there has been a recent resurgence of fervor in the anti-smoking movement.

I admire the company for positioning itself as consistently dedicated to health and for being willing to suffer losses for the sake of sending a message about the dangers of the tobacco industry.

If more chains follow suit, people will start to take notice. And one person who has taken notice is President Barack Obama, who praised the pharmacy chain.

CVS also plans to launch a national anti-smoking campaign, mirroring our campus’s Be Smoke Free program and the Quit Smoking Now classes. Ultimately, CVS Caremark’s dedication to customer health and ethical positioning of its company are admirable – especially for such a widely known drugstore.

 

Alyssa Jacobson is majoring in advertising and political science.