Friday, February 7, 2014

Will Walgreens become the Preferred Drug Store for cigarette smokers?

Will Walgreen's lengthy Chicago-area history help it keep business if tobacco products actually become an issue?

I have to admit to being somewhat amused this week by the announcement by CVS that they will stop selling cigarettes and other tobacco products later this year.

It has me wondering if the business battle between newcomer CVS and long-time Chicago-area pharmaceutical retailer Walgreen’s will now turn to trying to gain a business advantage concerning those people who need to have their daily dose of “smokes.”

WILL CVS NOW try to claim a high moralistic attitude because they won’t sell cigarettes? Will they be the start of a trend in which the sight of all those racks of cigarette packs and cartons behind the cash register will become obsolete?

Or something you only see in a seedier sort of business?

Is that what Walgreen’s is destined to become? Since the Deerfield-based retailer indicated this week they do not plan to follow suit on cigarettes.

They’re adopting the line of logic used by convenience stores, gasoline stations and other businesses that include tobacco products on their shelves – they add to the financial bottom line in a way that can make the difference between being profitable or going out of business altogether.

HOW FAR WILL Walgreen’s be prepared to carry this decision out? Because they certainly want to be taken seriously in terms of health care issues.

In fact, there are those industry analysts who contend that CVS’ decision to drop cigarettes from their stores is less about a high-minded moral statement and more about a bottom-line business decision.

As in they can make more money ultimately by having various clinics, vaccination services and other health care options in their stores – services with which the sight of cigarette cartons would just be too much of a clash!

Personally, I don’t smoke. I never have. Just something about the smell was always so unappealing that I never felt compelled to try.

WHICH MAKES ME not so much appreciate a business that doesn’t encourage smoking, as much as dislike a business that does.

I have way too many memories of getting stuck in lines waiting to make a purchase because the person right ahead of me either can’t make up their mind what brand of cigarettes they want, or (more often) are getting all worked up into a frenzy that demands to see a store manager because the sales clerk can’t figure out which of the variety of brands it is that the customer wants.

Invariably, it winds up being a small purchase I was making (sometimes, as little as purchasing a newspaper or two – yes, I still prefer ink on paper to this format).

Which makes such a purchase a bigger deal than it has to be!

THERE’S ALSO THE case that I currently live at a place with both a Walgreen’s and a CVS store within three blocks of me. I can’t say I favored either one of them in the past.

But I may well have to start spending more money at the CVS if this tobacco sales issue actually becomes a controversy.

Because I’m sure the people who want to view their cigarettes as some sort of civil rights issue (never mind the real issues of our society) will be more than willing to make a stink about this – and not just because their clothes and breath reeks of inhaling too much tobacco fumes throughout their lives.

There are times when I wonder if people are willing to “fight to the death” for their cigarette habit as intensely as those who are making an issue of “concealed carry. Perhaps it’s the same people – a cigarette pack in the shirt pocket and pistol tucked in the hip.

OR MAYBE A cigarette pack and pistol tucked in the purse?

While the rest of us consider fighting for issues that really matter in our daily lives. Including which place might help us look out better for our health.

Could that now be CVS?


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