(Rockville, MD) – Pharmacy giant CVS announced today that it plans on halting sales of all tobacco products in its 7,600 stores by October 1, 2014. Not surprisingly, reaction was mixed and, in some cases, unfiltered.
CVS stock futures dropped on the news; eliminating the sale of tobacco products could cost CVS $2 billion annually. “We feel that CVS decided this without consulting its shareholders,” said a Wall Street investor with substantial stock in CVS, speaking on condition of anonymity. “And that’s just wrong. CVS has a responsibility to those who have a financial stake in the company, no matter what types of lethal products they sell.”
The Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) Center for Tobacco Products (CTP), created by the 2009 Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act and based in Rockville, MD, sees the move as a vindication of its mission and purpose for being. “We’re glad that we’ll be seen as helping to wean average, ordinary, everyday Americans from tobacco. Up to now, we’ve just been seen as an agency determined to raid the coffers of Big Tobacco and conduct high-level intrusion into Americans’ lives.”
Congressional reaction was decidedly mixed. Representatives and senators from tobacco-growing states were understandably agitated. “This decision is a job-killer,” said a spokesman for a Senate member from a tobacco-growing state, speaking on condition of anonymity. “We can live with tobacco being a people killer, but our citizens are focused on jobs, not certain death from lung cancer and emphysema.”
Many in Congress who have pushed anti-smoking programs over the past 40 years hailed the initiative as a positive development in the War on Cancer. “We won’t stop until we see the Federal government join Corporations of the Willing in the ongoing intrusion upon the personal liberties of average, ordinary, everyday Americans,” said a spokesman for a liberal-leaning member of Congress, speaking on condition of anonymity.
And then there are the smoking and tobacco-chewing members of Congress.
It is no secret that Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-OH) is a chain-smoker. He has faced criticism since his election to the post from anti-tobacco advocates, but he has steadfastly refused to quit smoking. “Speaker Boehner continues to believe that the use of tobacco products is the right of every average, ordinary, everyday American adult,” said a Boehner spokesman, speaking on condition of anonymity. “He firmly believes that this act by CVS is a killer of American jobs. He firmly believes that this act by CVS is harmful to tobacco farmers, many of whom will have to switch to growing non-lethal crops. He firmly believes that this act by CVS is harmful to its employees, many of whom will probably lose their jobs due to declining sales. And he firmly believes that this act by CVS will adversely affect the American economy, especially CVS stockholders, many of whom are financial supporters of Speaker Boehner’s.”
A member of the Tea Partyist wing of the Republican Party blamed the decision squarely on the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare. “First Congress went after the tobacco companies,” said a Tea Partyist spokesman, speaking on condition of anonymity. “Now they’re going after smokers through Obamacare. This is one more reason why it’s a bad law that needs to be repealed. The Federal government should not be in the business of lowering health care costs by preventing asthma, emphysema, cancer, and other tobacco-related diseases. That’s an individual choice and should be left up to every citizen.”
CVS competitors Rite Aid and Walgreens hailed the decision, realizing that their tobacco sales will increase exponentially. Spokesmen from both companies, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the companies have no plans to follow CVS’ lead and ban the sale of tobacco products.
“It’s a ripple effect,” said the spokesman for Rite Aid, speaking on condition of anonymity. “Pretty soon we’ll have to ban fun products like candy cigarettes, too. Where do you draw the line?”
“If we banned cigarettes, we’d also have to stop selling Nicoderm CQ and other smoking-cessation products,” said the spokesman for Walgreens, speaking on condition of anonymity. “What’s the point of selling products to help you quit smoking if we can’t sell the products that are killing you in the first place?”
Walgreens announced plans for television and radio commercials that will highlight their pro-tobacco stance. They were reportedly interested in using former Marlboro Men in their commercials and advertisements – until they learned they’re all dead.