CVS, the nation’s second-largest pharmacy chain, recently decided to stop selling tobacco products. That was all well and good: There’s nothing objectionable about a corporation making the decision to stop selling a product that is well-known to be harmful. (Though we could have done without the theatrics from President Obama, who felt the need to issue a statement “congratulating” the chain.)
More troublingly, last week, the attorneys general of 28 states, led by New York’s Eric Schneiderman and Ohio’s Mike DeWine, sent a vaguely threatening letter to five other large chains—Walmart, Walgreens, Rite Aid, Safeway, and Kroger—“urging” them to do the same: Selling cigarettes “normalizes tobacco use,” you see, according to the AGs.
Are the private merchandising decisions of corporations really the business of leading law enforcement officers? Last time we checked, tobacco is still a legal product—even in New York. We are also well aware that Officialdom loathes smokers. But do the AGs really think smokers are so lazy and stupid that they’ll quit just because they have to go to the local bodega rather than Walgreens to get their fix?
If the AGs are successful in their quest, we’re quite certain that 7-Eleven franchise owners nationwide will be grateful for the extra business.