Cindy Hutter

Bravo CVS! Now It’s Time for More Health Advocates (You) to Step Up

Posted February 05, 2014 by Cindy Hutter, MBA

When I saw the first headline come across my Twitter feed that CVS plans to kick the habit and stop selling cigarettes and tobacco products at its stores, I almost didn’t believe it. Wow! Wow Wow!

This is a huge step, and likely a decision that was not made lightly. Could you imagine the pressure all of the tobacco companies must have put on CVS when CVS called to cancel their standing purchase orders? I’m sure there were talks about discount pricing, profit sharing and more to keep the cigs on the shelves.

But also in CVS’s ear was the voice of healthcare provider partners. These are the people who CVS is wooing as it moves beyond the pharmacy and into the treatment arena with its MinuteClinics. I have no doubts the healthcare provider partners said this phrase, “Cigarettes and tobacco products have no place in a setting where health care is delivered,” so often to CVS CEO Larry Merlo that he used it in his press release about the decision.

Since the announcement, there has been a ton of speculation by press pundits if other pharmacy chains will follow suit. As child and public health community members, as concerned citizens, as parents, we all have a voice in helping to get other cigarette sellers to see that banning the smokes is “the right thing to do”—another Merlo phrase.

Yes, a company can ignore concerns from one or two customers. It can’t ignore concerns of one or two million customers. Our collective voices can make a difference. And, it is easier than ever to be heard.

Go right now to Facebook and make a post praising CVS’s decision and like the CVS page. Get on Twitter and tweet or retweet your support for CVS’s decision. Send a tweet or email to Walgreens or any other pharmacy selling cigarettes in your hometown asking them to consider changing their policy. Reach out to others in your sphere of influences—those in your place of worship, children’s schools and sports leagues—and ask for their signature on a letter asking your local store to extinguish their cigarette sales.

Just as peer pressure is what gets many young people to start smoking, peer pressure is what it is going to take to get other cigarette retailers to stop. Let’s start loading on the pressure.

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