During the fall of last year, one of the nation’s leading pharmacies took a landmark stand against the most important source of preventable disease, illness, and early death worldwide… cigarettes. By stopping the sale of cigarettes and tobacco products in its more than 7,700 stores, CVS Health and its CEO Larry Merlo showed that the health and wellbeing of their customers was more of a priority than the profit that could be made from sales. Likely why Mr. Merlo was the guest of First Lady Michelle Obama, a strong advocate of health and wellbeing herself, at last night’s State of the Union.
What began as Consumer Value Stores in 1963 in Lowell, Massachusetts, has since evolved into CVS Health, with nearly 8,000 stores nationwide under the direction of Merlo, who became President and CEO in 2011. The initial decision to remove tobacco products from shelves came in February of 2014 and at that time Merlo sat with CBS This Morning to share the thought process behind the move, despite sales generating more than $2 billion annually. “I think everybody came to the right the decision. It’s a real contradiction to talk about all the things we’re doing with people to help them on their path to better health and at the same time sell tobacco products,” he shared. (You can watch the full interview here)
According to the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) “among current U.S. adult cigarette smokers, 68.8 percent report that they want to quit completely” and CVS Health’s decision to not sell tobacco products in its stores helps to support those who wish to end their bad habit for good. This time of year, quitting smoking ranks at the top of many New Year’s resolution lists and while the desire to quit may be strong, like stopping any addiction, it’s not easy. Getting a little inspiration and help along the way can be a huge help, so in addition to taking a stand in stores, CVS Health launched its #OneGoodReason campaign. Knowing that “everyone has #OneGoodReason. Whether you quit, never started, or helped someone kick the habit” the company urges people to share their reason to live tobacco free.
Need more support? CVS Health has even created a “Let’s Quit Together” cessation program. “In quitting tobacco, we announced our plans to help the 18 percent of Americans who smoke,” Merlo announced. “We know that 7 in 10 smokers want to quit, so we’ve built a comprehensive national smoking cessation program that will help them do so.”
If quitting smoking is on your New Year’s resolution list, take a moment to watch some of the inspiring stories and share your #OneGoodReason.
What do you think of CVS Health’s stand on smoking? Share your thoughts in the comments below!