With CVS/Caremark's recent announcement that they will stop selling tobacco products in their pharmacies, we are witnessing one of the biggest examples of a major corporation putting people ahead of profits.
As someone who has been involved in public service and government for the last 20 years, I believe this is part of a growing trend in public policy where voters are demanding that those who serve them make the right decisions, even if they are controversial.
When I served as state representative [7th District] and passed the law making Illinois the first state in the Midwest to go smoke-free in public indoor places, I saw firsthand what can happen when a silent majority decides to make their voices heard. At that time, an overwhelming majority of Illinoisans did not smoke, yet the loudest voices we heard in the debate were from the minority who do, and the tobacco companies that fund public outrage campaigns. Though the individual smokers could yell louder, the collective majority of nonsmokers prevailed.
After this law was implemented, we actually saw the business climate for taverns and restaurants improve in Cook County, as those who had given up on eating out due to secondhand smoke returned to our restaurants. The public is willing to support those who make the tough but necessary decisions, and I believe that CVS/Caremark will be rewarded for doing the right thing. Remember, democracy works, and even those who don't have their own lobbyists can prevail if they stand firm.
I want to commend CVS/Caremark, a company that works with Cook County government to provide health care benefits, for recognizing that their mission is public health, and that selling products that kill their customers is not good for business.
Karen A. Yarbrough
Cook County recorder of deeds