CVS, Tobacco & Capitalism

As I was publishing my post yesterday, related to American tobacco exports, CVS, a major pharmacy chain, announced that they will stop selling tobacco products by October of this year.  They concluded that their commitment to healthcare was compromised by peddling a product that is associated with a wide range of illnesses, including major causes of death across the globe.

While those of us who are passionate about preventive health care applauded their decision, some business pundits derided the policy as an economic mistake, implying that CVS and other companies should focus on increasing profits and not be sidetracked by politically correct policies; in concert, the shares of CVS drifted lower on the pre-market ticker.

The CVS decision and the Wall Street reaction demonstrate the nature of unbridled American capitalism.  Corporations are devoted almost exclusively to improving their top and bottom lines; while many are involved in social programs and philanthropy, such activities offer the side benefits of community exposure and tax deductions.  Doing the right thing is not always on their radar, a fact illustrated by the economic disparity that has come to define American society.  Kudos to CVS!