Thursday, February 6, 2014

So is CVS gonna have a "Going out of (the cigarette) Business" sale?


As I'm sure you've heard, the CVS Pharmacy chain will soon no longer sell cigarettes or other tobacco products at any of it's 7,600 stores.  They say selling stuff harmful to your health is inconsistent with their main purpose of selling things that will improve your health.  

It will cost them about $2B in annual sales, and IMO was a gutsy call by their CEO.  I like it.  I'm not a smoker, and I'll go out of my way to avoid smokers fouling my air.  It's a nasty habit as everyone, especially those addicted to it, knows.

But there's the rub.  After thinking about it, I'm not so sure it really was the best thing to do.  To my knowledge there are no "social smokers", those who only smoke on social occasions, like there are social drinkers.  Smokers are addicted.  They are going to get their smokes, regardless of how far they have to travel to get them.

I suggest it might have been a more effective statement to continue to sell cigs to the already addicted, and then use all the profits generated by those sales to subsidize the cost of those proven anti-smoking products they sell that actually help people quit for good.  (I'm not sure what the profit margin is on the tobacco products they sell, but it has to be up in the hundreds of millions of dollars.)

Those patch-type products (as one example) are expensive, and cutting the price substantially might entice more smokers to give them a try.  Or maybe they could use the profits to subsidize the cost of care at their in-store health clinics they're trying to expand.  Many people can't afford to visit a doctor, and this could be a viable alternative for the uninsured poor.  (Don't hold your breath ObamaCare is going to enroll everyone.)

CVS's move was a grand statement that on principle I applaud, but as a pragmatist, I think maybe they could have done something more practical to directly help people. 

And you say....?

S

10 comments:

  1. They're not selling cigarettes anymore but they still sell booze and candy bars so their "commitment to health" is kind of shaky. Your plan sounds good. It's like arms dealers who sell to both sides of a conflict--that way you make twice the profit!

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    1. So you're saying we should sell arms to both the Shiites AND the Sunnis? I like! :)

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  2. I think the "statement" is important, your idea sounds (don't faint on me Scott) like something Gvmt would mandate. CVS is not responsible for curing cigarette addiction, but they do not want to be associated with it.

    There are social smokers, mostly women (not sexist, just an observation) who only smoke at parties and generally when alcohol is involved. I've known and been jealous of quite a few.

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    1. Fair enough. I just don't see anyone changing their habit by CVS's move. They'll just go next door and spend their money there. I don't see that it practically accomplishes anything.

      Hey...did you just use my name and "government" in the same sentence? Them's fightin' words! ;)

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  3. I see their reasoning, but like Pat said, they still sell junk food and all sorts of other stuff that could be considered unhealthy.

    Remember those "truth" ads? They kind of died because the tobacco companies stopped paying for them... Perhaps CVS could continue selling ciggies and send the profits to support anti-smoking campaigns.

    I try to be as conscientious in my smoking as possible, as in never smoking in front of people who do not smoke. I'm polite like that. ;)

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  4. Good points you and Pat have. I just think they could have done something more constructive than "make a point". I prefer "show me" to "tell me".

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  5. Okay, I'm the only one that had to look up CVS to see what it was. I surprised the bottom line didn't keep them in the tobacco buisness. Selling them doesn't force folks to smoke.

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  6. Yes, nice gesture by CVS. I'm still thinking about how your ideas would work out in reality, but they sound like good ideas.

    I think the best idea would be to make retailers charge smokers the true cost of cigarettes. I read once that if you calculate all the health care expenses associated with smoking, the time lost from work by smokers who get sick, etc. cigarettes would have to cost $7. EACH.

    I know...would never go over.

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  7. He's right about social smokers. I've known a few, but they mostly bum a smoke here and there. I like the idea of using the money to make the lozenges I used cheaper. I don't care for grandstand plays but I understand. They better not get rid of the candy bars and chips or I'll start smoking again

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    1. who smokes Pyramid cigarettes? Those look like menthol. Geez. I better not look--still fighting the urge

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