CVS Considered Pulling Candy And Soft Drinks Along With Tobacco

Wes Williams

CVS Pharmacy, now known as CVS Health, moved ahead with their announced plan to end tobacco sales by October 1. As reported in The Inquisitr, CVS's goal was actually completed about a month ahead of schedule. But CVS considered going even further than that. The giant drug store chain also considered banning candy and sodas.

According to The Huffington Post, when CVS CEO Larry Merlo was questioned about the sale of sugary treats in light of the American epidemic of obesity and diabetes, he agreed that it was a concern that had been discussed by CVS executives.

"That's a great question, and that was part of the healthy debate that we had with our management team in terms of well, what about these other products?"

Merlo went on to say that after CVS consulted with medical experts, they decided that they would continue sales of "junk food" items such as sodas.

"The feedback that we got quite comfortable with was, if you talk to a nutritionist, a dietician or your physician, you know, they will tell you that occasional use [of sugary products], taken in moderation, has not been proved to cause medical harm. But the same can't be said about tobacco."

Long before CVS revealed that they had considered a sugar ban, some were calling for them to do just that. A Boston Globe editorial from February 8 suggested that removing sodas and candy would be a logical next step for CVS.

"It means CVS has much more work to do. Besides soda behind the counter, candy, chips, and other trash food should be removed from the front of the store to prevent impulse buys. Products with added sugars surpassing 10 percent of calorie intake should have big warning signs that they can contribute to heart disease."

Had they moved ahead with a ban on sugar, CVS likely would have faced the same kind of criticism that former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg received when he announced a plan to ban the sale of sugary drinks larger than 16 ounces in 2012. Bloomberg's ban was ridiculed by a variety of trade and labor groups, and eventually was ruled unconstitutional by a state Supreme Court judge. Being a business, CVS has every right to sell whatever legal products they choose, but the backlash from CVS customers would likely have been far more severe than it has been for their tobacco ban.

According to analysts, CVS stands to lose a good deal of revenue by eliminating tobacco sales. Forbes reports that CVS will lose about $2 billion over the short term. However, there are signs that CVS will pick up additional business from a public that is becoming more and more anti-tobacco, which will help ease the lost revenue.

CVS would likely have faced a very different revenue situation with a sugar ban. Tobacco use may be declining, but sodas are almost an American diet staple. CVS executives had to realize that banning sodas would cause a huge hit to their bottom line. So, CVS customers will still be able to get their sugar high at their local CVS pharmacy.

Should CVS ban sugar, too, if, as CVS officials say, they are are looking out for your health?