According to Forbes, CVS CEO Larry Merlo believes that continuing to sell cigarettes, which the Surgeon General blames for 480,000 deaths every year from heart disease, lung cancer, and stroke, was anathema to CVS' long-term plan to become a central player in the US healthcare system.Well, fine. If they want to make that commercial decision, it's up to them.
The CVS decision demonstrates that over time, health activists and public opinion can change corporate managers' profit-loss calculus. CVS predicts it will lose $2bn of $125bn in annual revenues.Will it end there? Reader, it will not...
From a public health perspective, the CVS decision is good news because research shows that the ubiquity of unhealthy products contributes to their overuse. The more places people can purchase and consume alcohol, tobacco, sugary beverages, salty snacks and fast food, the more they ingest.
So maybe the next step for CVS and similar chains is to get rid of the candy, soda and snacks that contribute so significantly to diabetes. Maybe cities and states that want to protect young people from painful illnesses and premature death can use their zoning laws to limit the number of outlets selling unhealthy products.*sighs*
Alcohol, food and tobacco corporations will, of course, raise the bogeyman of the nanny state, suggesting that any effort to limit access to sickening products interferes with our freedom and absolves individuals of their responsibility to protect their health.Yes. Because that’s exactly what it does.
But that argument is silly; no one is suggesting prohibition.Indeed. Yet.
Isn't enticing children and young people to consume products that put them at risk of premature death and preventable illness the height of irresponsibility? Wouldn't most societies charge a nanny with child abuse if he or she tried to bypass parents to encourage children to begin risky habits? By looking for additional ways to persuade companies that the public will not tolerate profiting from selling disease, we encourage more corporate leaders to do the right thing.I wasn't aware anyone had really asked ‘the public’…