Earlier today, as I scrolled through my Twitter feed (@jnfranklin, if you’d like to follow me), I discovered the big CVS decision to stop selling tobacco products later this year. My left eyebrow automatically shot up, as it so often does anymore, because I immediately had two thoughts. First, I was impressed; that is a gutsy step, as it will cost them money and make people mad, but good for them for trying to live up to their wellness philosophy. Then, I kind of groaned, thinking of all the nonsense people would soon start spouting in reaction to this announcement.
I was right.
Almost immediately, I saw tweets and Facebook posts condemning this decision, because no commitment has been announced by CVS regarding the removal of junk foods from their stores. I found this comparison kind of funny because there are some grocery stores that sell neither tobacco nor “junk” food, but those stores aren’t really mainstream grocery choices. Maybe this is because their prices are higher? Could be. But, because the “junk” products are available at other places, we have the choice to not shop at the stores which refuse to carry them. How is this any different? If you’re a tobacco user, then you may stop shopping at CVS, just like if you are a junk food eater, you’re probably not shopping exclusively at Whole Foods. I don’t see the issue.
I was actually kind of surprised to not see much about how this infringes on the rights of tobacco users; perhaps people realized how ridiculous that sounded, right from the start, as these products will still be made available somewhere. The government didn’t order CVS to stop carrying the products; it was a private choice to stop offering unhealthy choices. I did see a few remarks alluding to the loss of rights, and I’ll admit, I rolled my eyes a bit.
I don’t mean to sound insensitive; I’m sure this decision will make life a bit more difficult for smokers who live in towns where there is only one store, and it’s a CVS (but really, is there such a place?!?). But maybe it will actually encourage people to reexamine their habits, and make healthier choices for themselves and their families.
And if not, then they can choose to shop elsewhere…for now, at least.