Breath of fresh air

From an editorial Friday in The Washington Post:

CVS stopped selling cigarettes last week. The move may be little more than a business calculation for the pharmacy chain. But it is one worth cheering: It makes the sale of cigarettes less ubiquitous, and it shows that, after decades of effort, smoking is getting the stigma it deserves.

CVS wants to be known for more than running convenience stores: With demand for and spending on health care both rising, the company is aggressively expanding its prescription drug business and its “minute clinic” chain. Ending cigarette sales will help rebrand the company and forge relationships with other players in the health-care industry.

Give CVS credit. The company is forgoing some $2 billion in annual revenue to make its anti-tobacco play. Any company that takes a risk to stand on the right side of public health deserves congratulations. It will save lives.

More broadly, CVS’s move says a lot about American society’s relationship with tobacco. Gone are the days when tobacco companies could successfully fog up the facts and sow enough doubt about the deadliness of their products.

Tobacco consumption won’t end soon. But most Americans understand why that’s a worthwhile goal.