Leader in Industry: Courageous CVS

CVS Caremark hits a homerun with a courageous move to align their brand and their core values. 7,600 stores nationwide will no longer sell cigarettes and related items (as of October 1, 2014).

Will there be a loss in revenue due to taking cigarettes off the shelves?

Yes. Estimated at $2 billion a year.

Will there be more brand loyalty and trust for CVS?

Probably. Accountability and corporate social responsibility are becoming competitive advantages in today’s market. Doing what’s right for the health of our citizens will most likely overcome any losses in short-term sales. “People before Profits” leads to more stakeholder engagement and loyalty. It’s also leading to more public attention and rampant publicity as highlighted by Forbes.com article.

No smokingIs this a risk?

Yes. A calculated risk that could have huge pay-offs as seen by other socially responsible businesses (i.e., Patagonia, Tom’s, Chipotle). This bold move could be especially beneficial since they are leading the way.

Is this the right thing to do?


Is this a long-term strategic decision?

It appears to be part of a bigger plan for their healthcare initiatives. CVS has already established in-store mini-clinic with nurse and physician staff to assist customers. They are initiating a smoking cessation program. These strategic decisions and shift in services could recoup any losses in cigarette sales.

Care to share your thoughts?

Please comment below.


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  1. Becky
    February 10, 2014 at 3:49 pm

    While I applaud the risk, I question the corporate social responsibility you bring up. As a non smoker, I did not even know that CVS sold cigarettes as they are very well hidden behind the camera counter (at least in my neighborhood CVS, this is where the tobacco products are located), but out in plain sight is liquor, beer, and any and all junk food you could ever want or need. Are they going to stop selling these items as well? If not, why? If it truly has to do with social responsibility, why the help to quit smoking but no program for people to stop drinking?

    • February 10, 2014 at 3:55 pm

      Thank you Becky. You are absolutely correct. It’s next to impossible to find a healthy snack in a pharmacy. The alcohol is also a valid concern. I believe that companies need to start ‘somewhere.’ Take one small step toward ‘doing well and doing good.’ CVS is taking a risk (and a hit in profits), to make tobacco products less accessible. Perhaps, they will continue on this path with the other products you mentioned. I believe if we, as customers, embrace their positive changes, they will continue to provide more healthy options for their customers.

      • Becky
        February 10, 2014 at 4:14 pm

        Good points and great attitude to have! I have a tendency to be an all or nothing type of person when it comes to corporations as I have an immense distrust in them. I truly hope that they make strides in cleaning out the rest of the products in their store and they don’t start and stop with tobacco. It will be interesting to watch this play out. One small step is better than no step forward. I hope one day it will be just as taboo to eat a king size candy bar as it is to smoke a cigarette.