Would a company voluntarily give up $2 billion a year in sales?
Apparently so, if its leadership decides it’s the right thing to do. That’s how much CVS stands to lose from its decision to stop selling tobacco products.
“We really thought about this decision as it relates to the future as a health company — it’s good for customers and our company, in the long run,” Helena Foulkes, CVS’s president, told USA Today.
This may come as a shock to government planners who prefer to regulate the activities of businesses and consumers alike. Most recently, Obamacare’s onerous menu labeling requirements threaten to cripple some restaurant businesses—despite the fact that the nutrition information is already available from the restaurants.
Businesses want to provide products and services that customers want to buy. If they don’t, they go out of business. But CVS’s move to change the products it offers shows that plenty of business leaders consider more than just the bottom line—they consider the values they want their companies to reflect. This is another freedom they should enjoy in America—though it has recently been denied to businesses like Hobby Lobby that are trying to defend their right to do business in accordance with their values.
Will CVS be successful in its new direction? Time and the customers will determine that. But it’s the type of decision businesses should be free to make without interference from government.