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CVS’ decision to pull tobacco products a watershed moment for pharmacy

BY Antoinette Alexander

CVS Caremark made big news — BIG news — when it announced on Feb. 5 that it would pull tobacco products from all of its pharmacy locations.

This is an extremely important step for the company as it sends the strong message that it is truly dedicated to helping people on their path to better health. Stripping away the roughly $2 billion in revenues garnered from the tobacco shopper likely wasn’t an easy decision, but it makes sense — a lot of sense — for CVS. It clearly demonstrates to its shoppers, health systems and PBM clients that it is placing patients’ health front and center.

As Larry Merlo, president and CEO, put it, “The significant action we’re taking today by removing tobacco products from our retail shelves further distinguishes us in how we are serving our patients, clients and healthcare providers and better positions us for continued growth in the evolving healthcare marketplace."

CVS Caremark immediately received a flood of accolades for the decision, topped news headlines in consumer media and rocked the social media universe.

In addition to the White House, a string of groups issued statements in support of CVS Caremark’s decision, including the American Lung Association, the American Heart Association, American Pharmacists Association, Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, Legacy, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the National Business Group on Health.

“With 480,000 Americans losing their lives annually to tobacco, this new business decision is a watershed moment in the pharmacy business, and one public health leaders like Legacy hope will quickly be emulated by all businesses that have pharmacies on site, including national grocery store chains who purport to encourage health and wellness, but ironically continue to sell products resulting in the No. 1 preventable cause of death,” Legacy stated.

“CVS and its leaders are to be commended for taking this bold and important step," stated Helen Darling, president and CEO of the National Business Group on Health. "We also are very pleased to see that CVS plans to launch a national smoking-cessation program, in addition to removing cigarettes and tobacco products for sale. The smoking-cessation program comes at a time when employers all across the country are taking initiatives to help their employees quit smoking and get healthy."

Meanwhile, people took to social media to commend the pharmacy retailer for the bold move.

“I will choose CVS over other stores just because of this,” wrote one fan on CVS’ Facebook page.

“I am going to do everything I can to buy as much as possible at your store! A company with a heart and great deals! You guys rock! You guys are my heroes! It takes a lot of guts to make a bold move like this!! Much respect!” wrote another Facebook fan.

Another Facebook fan wrote, “I just lost my Mother to COPD on Jan 24th. It is a start!!! Let it begin here!!!”

Time will tell if other retailers will follow CVS’ lead but one thing is certain — people are closely watching.

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Meijer preparing to award two $10,000 scholarships

BY Michael Johnsen

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — For the third consecutive year, Meijer team members and their children will have a chance to receive up to $10,000 to further their college education with the Fred & Lena Meijer Scholarship, a competitive scholarship administered by Grand Rapids Community Foundation.

“Our dad always believed that continued education and lifelong learning were invaluable,” stated Doug Meijer, co-chairman of the Grand Rapids, Mich.-based retailer. “My brothers and I are pleased to continue providing this scholarship opportunity for Meijer team members and their children.”

The Fred & Lena Meijer Scholarship is a private scholarship fund that was established at the Grand Rapids Community Foundation in 1975 originally for children of Meijer team members. In 2010, the scholarship program was expanded to include Meijer team members themselves and awards were increased from $500 to $1,000. The Meijer Foundation funded the scholarship in 2011 with a significant endowment to the Community Foundation, and enhanced the scholarship in 2012 to $2,500, while also providing two $10,000 scholarships: one each in Fred and Lena Meijer’s names.

Last year, the program awarded $315,000 in scholarships, furthering the college educations of 120 Meijer team members and their children. Of that amount, two recipients were awarded $10,000 scholarships and 118 others throughout the retailer’s five-state footprint received $2,500 scholarships. While administered in Grand Rapids, the scholarship is open to all team members regardless of where they reside.

The Fred & Lena Meijer Scholarship is awarded by the Grand Rapids Community Foundation based on financial need, academics and community involvement. A written essay of aspirations and educational goals is also part of the application process.

“We enjoy working with Meijer to provide scholarships for its team members and their families,” Grand Rapids Community Foundation president Diana Sieger said. “The opportunities that higher education offers can change a person’s life, and the scholarships can help make that happen.”

The scholarships are available for use at any accredited college, university, vocational, technical or specialized educational institution nationwide. The number of scholarships awarded each year is determined as a percentage of the total number of applicants as set by the federal government.

To qualify for the scholarships, Meijer team members must have one year of continuous service by the April 1 application deadline, and may be full- or part-time students. Dependents of Meijer team member must be full-time students with a minimum of 12 credit hours.

 

 

 

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Giant Carlisle president to retire

BY Michael Johnsen

CARLISLE, Pa. — Ahold USA on Friday announced that Rick Herring, president of the Giant Carlisle Division, has made the decision to retire, effective Feb. 14.

Herring has had a successful career at Ahold companies for nearly 25 years and has made many contributions to the Ahold organization.

“We would like to thank Rick for his numerous contributions to our companies, as well as for his leadership, dedication and years of service," stated James McCann, Ahold USA COO. "We wish him all the best in this next phase of his life and career.”

Bhavdeep Singh, EVP operations, Ahold USA, will oversee the Giant Carlisle Division on an interim basis until a permanent replacement is named.

The Giant Carlisle Division, headquartered in Carlisle, Pa., operates nearly 200 supermarkets in Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia and West Virginia under the banner of Giant/Martin’s. The division employs more than 31,000 associates.

 

 

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