Thursday, February 06, 2014

CVS Hypocrisy

The big news of the day in super-do-gooder world is that the second largest pharmacy chain in the country – CVS – will not be selling tobacco products as of October next. The reason is that tobacco represents a health hazard and a pharmacy encourages wellness. There's no argument with this since a business has a right to structure its policy and tobacco is harmful.

One wonders, of course, why CVS didn't stop selling tobacco as early as yesterday...just trash their supplies since their loss in future revenue has been well-publicized—$2 billion per year, so what's a cool billion more in six months? Of course, there's always another angle when a huge retail business “makes a stand.” Could CVS see its action as appealing to folks who believe in boycotts (a la the method of Jesse Jackson) for righting a wrong and boycotting Walgreen's now in favor of...yep...“making a stand” of their own and flocking to CVS.

Should one question the motives of CVS as benign? Yes. Should one wonder if other elements of marketing might have entered into the decision? Yes, since business decisions are usually made on the profit/loss basis more than any other. That's not to say that CVS has misrepresented its reasons for dropping tobacco. Its motives may be pure as the driven snow.

The kicker, however, is the hypocrisy CVS is exhibiting in dropping tobacco but continuing to sell both wine and malted liquor, products which are not only harmful to the body but—worse—deranging to thought processes and actuating consequent behaviors. Both products can induce (and very often do) drunkenness, with the attendant damnation brought on by drinking/drunk drivers. Nobody ever killed another person with a car while under the influence of nicotine.

So, whether considering injuries to throat and lungs caused by using tobacco or frying the liver and calcifying the brain as a result of boozing, do-goodism should apply across the board. The use of alcoholic beverages has caused billions more incidents of grief, pain and death in this country (and throughout history everywhere) than the use of tobacco. This is too well documented to deny by CVS or any other entity. Alcohol is an abuser/killer of users and/or their victims.

This hypocrisy reaches into government as well. The recently released budget recommended by Kentucky Governor Beshear is a case in point. It calls for a tax-increase of 67% on cigarettes and the restoration of a tax on cigarette rolling-papers. It creates an income tax-credit for bourbon producers who reinvest in their own businesses (a freebie since buying a used truck would qualify), reduces the wholesale tax on beer, wine and distilled spirits, and repeals the distilled-spirits case-sales tax.

Tobacco, beer, wine, and especially liquor are primary products endemic to Kentucky's business profile, so why the encouragement of the use of alcohol, the most damaging of all drugs (including heroin, marijuana, crack, prescription drugs, etc.) while attempting concomitantly to kill tobacco production, which poses no threat to society? The governor has not explained his reasoning. Admitting hypocrisy of that magnitude in officialdom would be far too great a pill to swallow. There is no rationale, of course.

Like most everything these days, it's a matter of political correctness, which demands that government initiate protection of people from themselves (prohibit tobacco-use) but protects people from other people only after the fact (victim in the morgue/hospital). Why not raise the tax on alcohol by 67% and see if that might help both the budget and the society? To be fair, shouldn't a sin-tax on one product be matched by a sin-tax on all similar products? Is a tobacco-farmer less a person than a whiskey-distiller?

This hypocrisy accrues to the elitist notion that booze encourages civility and sophistication (as well as redneck beer-binging), not to mention an inherent right to ingest anything one desires, despite the consequences. If someone gets hurt...so what! But the sophisticates comprise the same crowd that believes government should protect people from themselves, not necessarily from each other. Make sense? Of course not!

So...CVS will continue its hypocrisy vis-a-vis tobacco and alcohol, and the president will continue yelling “hooray” but will not ban alcohol from the White House even though he's allegedly banned cigarettes from his nicotine-stained fingers. Such irony in high places!

And so it goes.
Jim Clark

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