Mentholated Cool: CVS, Cigarettes, and a New Era

Dear Overworried Orwellians,

Growing up, some of the most positive ads of black Americans, often showcased a mentholated cool that could not be duplicated, no matter how awesome life was. It is no surprise that if you grow up with images of pleasure surrounding Newports, that you determine coolness based on that and other images from real life circumstances surrounding you. While menthols cigarettes ads showcase a very specific type of  black cool, most smoking ads portray some kind of cool. And no matter who you are, smoking has been known to show detrimental effects.

Spinning Frisbees!! Double Cool

It did not appear to be with great fanfare that CVS announced last week that they would stop selling ciggies in their stores.  There was a press release, and announcement,  and the media jumped on coverage. Since we live in a jaded society, no one  took that news as indication of a great moral undertaking by the company. The thinking has been that giving up such a major share of their profit will definitely have to benefit the company financially in some way at a point down the line. Perhaps it will pay off as the company continues to establish themselves as a healthcare provider. The point is, CVS is a healthcare company, and should think about ways to improve the health of their customers.

I'm all about this move to remove cigarette sales. And no Orwellians, I do not think this is going to mean 2+2=5 or that CVS will also stop selling gummy bears (because you know, sugar also causes diseases). I think that Bloomberg's failure to stop soda sales in New York City shows that the government and society still believe in free choice at some level. Besides, sugar was in that tiny part of the old school food pyramid that seemed so elusive as a child. Tobacco was not. And, sugar alone does not cause disease.

See: Sugar's Up Top, No Tobacco or Nicotine

Maslow also did not mention tobacco. Sorry. *shrug*

My passionate fat kid defense of sugar aside, this change will not be a big stretch for the smoker. For one, corner store owners nationwide (whatever form the corner store takes in your hood)  are not going to give up cigarette sales. It is too lucrative for a small business. Marijuana is gaining legality for "medical" use throughout the country. I am sure CVS will sell weed once they are able to do so, so why sweat the small stuff? Really, if you're going to have a conniption, stop it. In America there are places where you can get your cigarettes tax free! So why were you giving CVS your money anyway? (For detailed discussion on reservations, cigarette sales, and alcohol, do not look at me. I have nothing. I won't even promise to get back to you.) In the chance that the CVS plan leads to some Prohibition era style bootlegging, then maybe it will be time to rethink the decision. But unlike Prohibition, this is a store's decision- not the government's.

Now, don't think me silly. I am well aware that urge and addiction grow from real places and that addiction itself is a disease. I also know there is some level of choice that adults should be allowed to have.  And I have been told cigarettes and ganja are not the same things, so this whole legalized cannibus may not work out so nicely as a supplement.  Additionally, it is also doubtful  that an entire industry will not be taken down by one nationwide chain stopping their sale of cigarettes. But in the same way that the cigarette industry survived the health studies and warnings of the Sixties (as shown in Mad Men) and emerged into the epitome of cool, the small step of one chain examining their position as a health retailer could make the difference in helping to decrease cigarette use.

It will always be cool to do hood rat things with your friends, but a national discourse on what is  cool could be optimal. Orwellians, since we reached a point of conversation maybe it's just time to say, thank you for smoking, and move on with your worries. I mean, we are conversing, so it is not all authoritarian.



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