It’s not every day that a major retail chain chooses the public good over corporate profit. But that’s what CVS did with its decision to stop selling tobacco products. If estimates of $1.5 billion in lost revenue prove accurate, CEO Larry Merlo and his board made a decision that could pinch. But they made it nevertheless, with vision and courage. Bravo!
The war on tobacco taught us important lessons. Price matters. As cigarette taxes increase, smoking decreases. We also know that access matters. Many of us remember when cigarettes were sold in vending machines. Limiting access to tobacco can prevent youths and young adults from beginning to smoke.
CVS will eliminate the sale of tobacco from more than 7,000 drugstores. That is a tremendous commitment from one organization. Maybe the example will cause Midwestern store owners to think about their social responsibilities. What can they do to improve the health of their communities? The Minnesota Cancer Alliance, a coalition of organizations committed to reducing the burden of cancer, challenges Minnesota businesses to get creative and follow CVS’ lead.
WARREN LARSON, Bagley, Minn.
The writer is chairman of the Minnesota Cancer Alliance.