We don’t often associate the word QUIT with leadership however; ceasing to do something that is not in keeping with our personal vision, mission, or ethics is a powerful leadership attribute. On Feb. 5th, CVS/Caremark announced that it will end the sale of tobacco products in its more than 7600 locations throughout the United States—I applaud this leadership decision.
The 50 Years of Progress report from the Surgeon General highlights our efforts to reduce the use of tobacco. Despite our best efforts, 5.6 million American children alive today will die prematurely from smoking-related diseases unless current smoking rates drop. The report concludes that smoking kills nearly half a million Americans a year, with an additional 16 million suffering from smoking-related conditions. It puts the price tag of smoking in the U.S. at more than $289 billion a year in direct medical care and other economic costs.
The decision by CVS/Caremark to cease tobacco sales is in keeping with it’s vision statement to improve the quality of human life. The implementation of the Affordable Care Act has pharmacies moving into the treatment arena through retail health clinics with a goal to improve quality of care and reduce health care costs. These clinics offer an alternative to acute care that might replace ER visits, or doctor office visits where there certainly wouldn’t be a counter within the office selling tobacco products.
Troyen Brennan, CVS Chief Medical Officer and Steve Schroeder, Former RWJF President and CEO provide a detailed explanation of this health related move in their JAMA article. The sale of tobacco products was not viewed as an activity that supported the vision of, “improving the quality of human life” by the CVS/Caremark executives. This leadership decision will remove nearly $1.5 billion in revenues annually, however, it addresses the ethical paradox inherent in promoting health while contributing to tobacco-related deaths.
Have you and/or your organization done a check-up on your activities to ensure that they are in keeping with your vision and mission?