CVS Health quit tobacco—and now it's quitting the Chamber of Commerce
- Last year, CVS stopped selling tobacco products. And in a sign of its commitment to public health, the organization is making the aggressive move of leaving the Chamber of Commerce.
- CVS decided to quit the U.S. Chamber of Commerce after reading about its position on tobacco products outside of the U.S., which CVS says runs counter to the World Health Organization's efforts to curb tobacco abuse.
- The Chamber has defended its position by saying that it is defending its members' business interests.
CVS is joining a long list of influential businesses, individuals, and organizations committed to an anti-tobacco initiative. The list includes influential politicians like Al Franken, Elizabeth Warren, and others; business moguls like Richard Branson; Dr. Margaret Chan, Director of the WHO; and others. They join a list of companies that are starting to publicly come out against smoking, including Anthem, the Health Care Service Corporation, the Stewart Health Care System of Boston, and the Indiana University Health system.
One thing that may have left a particularly bad taste in CVS' mouth is the fact that the Chamber is fighting anti-smoking policies most aggressively in developing nations, which already have far higher rates of tobacco use and healthcare systems that are less equipped to help low-income individuals grapple with the consequences of that tobacco use.
The trendline towards a large-scale anti-smoking stance that affects behavior in the business world and in global politics is strong—and likely to have a profound impact on public health policy and corporate policy in the long-term.