CVS Caremark announced Wednesday it will stop selling cigarettes and other tobacco products at its CVS/pharmacy stores by October 1.President Obama praised this move, which brought some criticism from the right (and from some of my friends), but I don't think that criticism is warranted. Let me explain.
The retailer said the move makes CVS/pharmacy the first chain of national pharmacies to take tobacco products off the shelves.
Tobacco has no redeeming qualities. After the first couple of uses, it does nothing for a human than relieve the withdrawal symptoms that come from nicotine addiction. It is an addictive poison, and that's all it is. Nobody should sell it. CVS is acting as a conscientious capitalist company should by voluntarily ceasing to sell this poison to a clientele it cares about. They're not saying, "We know what's best for you," but rather saying, "We can't live with selling this to people we care about. It's wrong and we're going to stop doing it."
Some of my friends have argued that they should stop selling alcohol and candy, too. Well, maybe, but both products might be argued to have some therapeutic value and in the case of candy, some nutritional value as quick energy. That is, they may not be great for you, but they do have some redeeming qualities, so it's up to a responsible adult to make good decisions regarding those products. Tobacco has absolutely no redeeming qualities, no therapeutic value and so it makes sense not to sell it if a retailer professes to care about its customers as more than sources of revenue.
I also think it's perfectly fine for a president I disagree with on almost everything to praise a positive move by a company. I'm always happy to find common ground with ideological opponents.
What I really love about this story is that by voluntarily ceasing to sell this poison, CVS is demonstrating that under capitalism, responsible retailers will choose to do the right thing without government coercion. I hope other retailers will follow suit.