There are some exciting advances happening in the world of public health, and these are in the form of policies created by major corporations. Although it is right to hold corporations accountable when they are not doing justly, we can also celebrate when they take steps in the right direction. After all, they have vast reach that can impact millions of people. They can also create standards for other businesses and agencies to follow. And for truly healthy communities, we all need to be contributing — schools, faith communities, government, businesses, non-profits, and citizens alike.
CVS Pharmacy, the second-largest pharmacy chain in the US, committed to ridding all of its stores of tobacco products by October 1 and accomplished their goal a full month early. CVS is even rebranding to be called “CVS Health” and is planning to offer tobacco cessation resources and coaching to its customers. Although many customers will seek these products elsewhere, a study published in Health Affairs shows a more than 13% decrease in purchases of tobacco products after area pharmacies stopped carrying them. Most importantly, this is an example of a company taking a stand for health and living into their mission of helping people on their path to better health.
Another major corporation, Purdue Chicken, has announced that it is ceasing the use antibiotics at all of its hatcheries. Public health advocates are celebrating this policy that will cut back on unnecessary antibiotic use and hopefully decrease the development of antibiotic-resistant superbugs. This is, of course, one small piece in a much larger equation — we still must ask about animal welfare, workers conditions, miles traveled for packaging, shipping and distribution — but it is exciting progress.
As Transforming Health NC said on their Facebook page recently, “Our motto at Transforming Health NC is Do One Thing. CVS sure did today!” We, as faith communities, can celebrate and support these advances, valuing each step in the direction of wholeness. And while doing so, continually ask ourselves what one step we are being called to take. What more we can do as individuals and communities to create and sustain healthy communities? Are we willing to take that step?