Health advocates across the country are hailing CVS Pharmacy's decision to stop selling tobacco products. The company admits that it will lose millions of dollars in revenue over time, but is mostly citing the obvious: Smoking is detrimental. Selling cigarettes is antithetical to good health. Conclusion? A business focused on helping people become healthier should not be in the business of selling a product which has a deadly track record and is the number one cause of preventable death. Makes perfect sense from a PR standpoint.
If you dig a little deeper, there is another very compelling reason for CVS to go this route. It's going to be more beneficial financially in the long run. Health and wellness is big business and the implementation of Obamacare has created renewed opportunities for healthcare companies to provide healthy options for customers and patients. CVS is making a strategic move to align itself more closely with the wellness moverment and consequently, the money that comes with it.
From a PR standpoint, this is a triple win for CVS and its reputation:
- They get the lasting publicity value of being the FIRST major pharmacy to announce this strategy. Being a trendsetter is a powerful thing. Trust me, CVS's name will show up in news coverage on this issue for years to come.
- CVS will experience a flood of support from potential customers, vendors, and most importantly health partners who want to align themselves with a leader.
- CVS will eventually make more money on health and wellness programs - which has much more potential than income from cigarette sales.
As someone who has worked in the fight against tobacco, I admire CVS's courage to step out and be different, seemingly flying in the face of logic. As a PR practitioner, I see the move for what it is - a smart business decision that will pay dividends into the future.