Woah! We think this is huge. The CVS Caremark decision to stop selling tobacco products generated more twitter buzz than a case of RedBull – and it should have. The country’s second-largest drug store chain says it will lose about $2 billion a year in tobacco sales at their stores because of the move. That’s big money by any account.
“Tobacco products have no place in a setting where healthcare is delivered,” said Larry Merlo, President and CEO of CVS Caremark in an interview on the company’s website.
Personally, we couldn’t agree more. And certainly the irony of a “health care provider” selling a known cancer-causer isn’t lost on anyone. And despite the positive public health implications this decision could have, as well as the expected pressure this may put on CVS competitors to follow suit, this was – and is – still a business decision. CVS hopes the move will open the door to more partnerships with other health care providers with a move that proves they’re as serious about healthy lifestyles as they are a healthy bottom line.
Like they say in the gaming world, don’t bet what you can’t afford to lose. CVS is obviously willing to lose out on this tobacco money in the short term for the (hopefully) long-term benefits of being the first, as their website suggests, to “quit for good.” In any competitive business you’ve got to take some chances if you want to be number one. And we’re sure there was much number crunching done before this decision was approved.
Sure, there may be some cranky customers when the October target date arrives, but when the smoke clears from this one (sorry, couldn’t resist!) we think the CVS decision to go tobacco-free will pay off. Now, take a look at how you’re going about business and ask what kind of risk-taker you’re willing to be to separate yourself from the field.