Is CVS Caremark's decision to quit selling tobacco simply a $2 billion tactical retreat? Maybe, but WHO CARES.
by Chris Mann
My dad is, generally speaking, a pretty mellow guy. He has a good sense of humor and he rolls with jokes pretty well. There is, however, one painful chapter in his life that is not onlynot funny, but when the subject comes up, he can hardly resist the craving to attack.
"I gave up so much of my life to smoking," Dad told me over the phone in the fall of 1997 following a heart condition that landed him in the hospital. "Even worse, I put you, your mother, and your brother at risk. Of course, quitting smoking helped my health and I can now taste food, I can breathe, and so forth, but I can't take back the effect on the family."
I called dad this afternoon to share the news that CVS Caremark announced today that it would no longer sell tobacco products. As I expected, he was delighted. We meandered to this and that element of the story--what this would mean to CVS's bottom line, how they might leverage this for the good of the company, and so forth. But none of that seemed to figure much into his calculus about whether CVS President Larry Merlo deserves kudos or onions for the announcement. "I think that's great news," he said decisively.
Oh, but the onion throwers approacheth, and they remind me of a band of jealousy pimps recorded in a letter written by the Apostle Paul to a small church in Philippi in ~A.D. 60. In this letter, Paul admonishes the Philippian church to take chill pills over their angst about this or that preacher with this or that level of motivational purity.
15 Some indeed preach Christ from envy and rivalry, but others from good will. 16 The latter do it out of love, knowing that I am put here for the defense of the gospel. 17 The former proclaim Christ out of selfish ambition, not sincerely but thinking to afflict me in my imprisonment. 18 What then? Only that in every way, whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is proclaimed, and in that I rejoice. (emph. added)Philippians 1:15-18My dad is concerned about tobacco truth, and Paul is concerned about gospel truth, but what they share in common is concern about truth, and the talking head industry will do well to snark less over CVS' motivations and applaud more for the truth getting out, however and why-ever it has.
Yes, yes, we know:
But, the truth has won, and CVS should be applauded. In Business For Life salutes not only CVS President Larry Merlo, but the CVS board of directors that at least had to give a positive nod on this massive decision, and the creative agency that rolled out the publicity campaign.