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CVS Health's Prescription for a Better World

By Eileen Howard Boone, Senior Vice President of Corporate Social Responsibility & Philanthropy, CVS Health; President of the CVS Health Foundation

November 10, 2014–One of the keys to successful corporate social responsibility should be a strong connection to an organization’s mission or purpose. Purpose coupled with strong alignment to business priorities can deliver an impactful platform that supports both long-term growth and social change. At CVS Health, our programs and initiatives are deeply rooted in our purpose of helping people on their path to better health, and it serves as a decision filter for all that we do.

In fact, everything from initiatives in our retail pharmacies to our philanthropic programming, directly relates back to this purpose. We’ve worked to develop a corporate social responsibility platform that allows us to be strategic with our giving, helps engage our colleagues, and aligns our charitable support with our business priorities and our company’s purpose.

Earlier this year, we decided that the sale of cigarettes and tobacco was in direct conflict with our company purpose of helping people on their path to better health. We knew we had to do what was right, and made the decision to stop selling tobacco products in all of our CVS/pharmacy locations, making us the first national pharmacy chain to remove cigarettes and tobacco from store shelves.

As a leader in health care, we made the decision to take a stand to help our customers, colleagues and patients in the fight against tobacco. We believe cigarettes have no place in a setting where health care is delivered. And, there’s evidence that reducing the availability of cigarettes reduces rates of smoking. Results from a new CVS Health Study showed that policies to eliminate the sale of tobacco products at retailers with pharmacies in San Francisco and Boston are associated with up to a 13.3 percent reduction in purchasers of tobacco products.

On September 3, 2014 we became tobacco-free in all of our 7,700 CVS/pharmacy locations – nearly a month ahead of our original targeted date. In addition, we’ve launched a comprehensive and uniquely personalized smoking cessation campaign to help millions of Americans quit smoking and live tobacco-free lives. Pharmacies are on the front line of health care, becoming more involved in chronic disease management to help patients with high blood pressure, high cholesterol and diabetes. All of these conditions are made worse by smoking.

We will continue to push the envelope in the area of corporate social responsibility, and I encourage other companies to do the same. As a health care company, we are committed to acting as a responsible, corporate citizen and giving our customers opportunities that can help them live healthier lives.