Daily Progress, Jacksonville, TX

February 12, 2014

An intellectually honest approach to health crisis

Jacksonville Daily Progress

JACKSONVILLE — A few decades ago, when my Dad was the CEO of the largest department store in the south, he and his executive staff made a decision that would have a negative impact on the company's bottom line.  

Miami Beach had placed a gambling initiative on the ballot with the intention of drawing more money to the Miami Beach economy if the initiative passed. Dad's company elected to donate $25,000.00 to a campaign whose intention was to defeat the gambling initiative.  

The first reaction of most would be:  "Why would a department store endeavor to take steps that would have a negative impact on revenue?"  This decision was based on the knowledge and the statistical data that show that a large percentage of those who gamble injure themselves and their families by gambling.  Gambling and lotteries have always been a "chicken" way for states to generate revenue.  Since gambling, unlike paying income, property or sales tax, is voluntary, nobody is forced to do it.  Nevertheless there are so many who do it betting on the come. If casinos and lotteries were not profitable they would not exist; and they exist at the expense of those who are most harmed.  Just look at the typical person standing in line at the convenience store buying lottery tickets.  By the way, the gambling initiative was defeated.

Anyone who reads the paper or goes online to get the latest news, knows that CVS Pharmacy, who has about 7,600 stores in the United States, just announced that it will no longer sell tobacco products as of October 1, 2014.  

What a bold and moralistically correct move!  This decision will knock approximately two billion dollars of revenue out from under CVS.  This move translates into millions of lost net profit. I took the time to chat with the local CVS manager and he is tickled pink.  To paraphrase his remarks, "How can we purport to be looking out for the well-being of our customers if we sell tobacco products."  

This following quote comes from the CVS website: "Ending the sale of cigarettes and tobacco products at CVS/pharmacy is simply the right thing to do for the good of our customers and our company.  The sale of tobacco products is inconsistent with our purpose – helping people on their path to better health."

How awesome that we have retailers who make decisions that are for the well-being of the consumer instead of for themselves!  

Let us hope that this is only a first step.  Let us hope that Brookshire Brothers realizes the harm its tobacco barn does.  

Let us hope that Wal-Mart, who probably stands to lose a lot more revenue than CVS, takes the same step.  

Let's hope that some of the local convenience stores who deem the sale of alcohol immoral but yet continue to sell tobacco, take an intellectually honest approach to helping resolve one of the biggest health crises our country faces: Lung cancer caused by smoking tobacco.


Mike McEwen,