Follow by Email

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Tobacco CEO and CVS exec both want people to quit smoking

What happens when your business practices and what you want your brand to represent are in conflict?

Reynolds American, the maker of Camel cigarettes announced that it will ban smoking from its offices starting next year. On the surface, the news isn’t shocking; society at-large has acknowledge cigarettes’ toxicity and banned their use in countless public places (and CVS Health CVS 0.65% recently outlawed the sale of tobacco products in its stores). But those very products are a huge part of Reynolds American’s business, as the company owns brands like Camel and Pall Mall—and is the No. 2 tobacco company in America.

The decision begs the question: What happens when your business practices and what you want your brand to represent are in conflict? The two women behind these recent decisions—Helena Foulkes, President of CVS/pharmacy and EVP of CVS Health, and Susan Cameron, President and CEO of Reynolds American—shared their thoughts on the question of what to do when value and values collide in early October at Fortune’s Most Powerful Women Summit.

Helena Foulkes:

The background: In February CVS Health (then called CVS Caremark) said it would stop selling cigarettes, a move that would take some $2 billion in revenue out of its stores. Foulkes said the company had talked about doing it for years and wrestled with the huge financial decision. “It was very consistent with our purpose,” she said. “It reflected where we’re going as a company strategically.”

Foulkes added that the decision stemmed from CVS formalizing its mission a couple of years ago to help people on a path to better health. The message of health and being a health company fit with its three different businesses of pharmacy stores, benefits management service, and retail medical clinics. If that mission was going to be a filter for every decision executives made, Foulkes said CVS knew it would have to stop selling cigarettes. Foulkes admitted that she’s surprised no other major retailer has followed, in large part because CVS spent a lot of time worrying about who in its competitive set would make the move first.

The decision led to an “incredible sense of pride” at the company, she said. CVS employees have since come forward with their own stories—Foulkes’ mother died of lung cancer, for example. She noted that while we often feel uncomfortable marrying a personal decision with a business decision, in this case the company embraced both

1 comment:

  1. After doing some research online, I've ordered my first e-cig kit from VaporFi.