I have a major sweet tooth. Give me a bag of chocolate or a pint of ice cream and I do not have the willpower to let it sit unopened for much longer than a few minutes. Growing up, my family didn’t buy junk food very often because if we had ice cream in the freezer one morning, it was gone by that night.
Granted there are 11 of us, so any food that we buy disappears pretty rapidly.
All that’s to say that one of the best methods of self-control is to not make something available. If it’s not in the house, I won’t eat it. If I don’t walk down the aisle at the store, I won’t buy it. If my mom tells me I can’t have it, I’ll wait until she goes to bed to steal it out of the freezer (sorry, Mom, Fudgsicles are my favorite).
Using what seems like a similar tactic, CVS Pharmacy has changed its name to CVS Health and is no longer selling any type of tobacco products. In an article from Buzzfeed, Dr. Troy Brennan, the chief medical officer and executive vice president of CVS, said, “We see ourselves as a health care company. There is nothing as bad for health as smoking, so selling a product in our store that’s causing people health problems didn’t make sense.”
The first thing I thought of after hearing about this major change for CVS was the attempt that former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg made to regulate the sales of soft drinks. According to the New York Times, Bloomberg wanted to “prohibit the sale of sugary drinks in containers larger than 16 ounces.” Bloomberg’s attempt was shot down this summer.
In many ways, the CVS situation is different than the soft drinks: CVS made this decision entirely on its own as a single corporation; a decision that could be potentially detrimental to the company’s profits. The case about the 16-ounce sodas was a government regulation issue, two very different concepts.
However, I draw a similarity where a larger institution is attempting to take away unhealthy options in order to sway consumers to live better. It’s actually rather disappointing that our culture needs that kind of coaching to make healthy choices.
I admire what CVS is doing because it is really of no benefit (especially financially) to the company. There is the possibility that customers who are against tobacco usage will resolve to only shop at CVS, but to me it seems like a true effort to create a healthier consumer population.
At the same time, I have doubts that it will have any real effect on tobacco consumers. On every corner that doesn’t have a CVS Health, there’s likely a Walgreens, Wal-Mart, gas station or some other convenience store that will still be selling an abundance of tobacco products. Rather than deterring tobacco users from buying tobacco, it seems that CVS will just deter tobacco users from shopping at their stores.
It was a bold move on the part of CVS. They are one of many companies that has chosen to stand up for something rather than work for profit. Hobby Lobby and Chick-fil-A are two other examples of companies that made what might not have been a smart business decision to promote their beliefs.
As admirable as that is, our culture needs to rely more on our own willpower rather than people making decisions (or strong suggestions) for us. As kids, all we wanted was the power to make our own decisions. If I could’ve had ice cream every night I would have. And I would’ve been a fat kid.
As young adults in a transition between living with our parents and being on our own, we college students have the chance to truly start relying on our own decisions.
Guidance and strong suggestions can be a wonderful tool, but do we really want companies to be making those suggestions for us?