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CVS Health becomes first big brand to boycott agencies that market smoking or vaping


By John Glenday | Reporter

May 1, 2019 | 3 min read

Retail pharmacy CVS Health has taken the moral lead against tobacco and e-cigarette companies by becoming the first major brand to boycott any agency that promotes smoking or vaping via the Quit Big Tobacco campaign.

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CVS Health boycotts agencies which promote smoking or vaping

The unequivocal stance has been prompted by a continued marketing push by tobacco firms to attract new customers. It's a stance that has prompted CVS to become the first big brand to join Quit Big Tobacco – a campaign by public health body Vital Strategies to ferment a wider boycott of smoking and vaping accounts among ad agencies, PR firms and health-related businesses.

Norman de Greve, chief marketing officer for CVS Health, said: “Big tobacco is increasingly using new channels to directly target our youth – including leveraging social media and influencers. We unequivocally take the Quit Big Tobacco pledge, meaning we will not work with any marketing and public relations agencies that have ties with the tobacco industry, and we urge other companies to join us in this critically important fight."

More than 200 smaller organisations have already signed the Quit Big Tobacco pledge, committing to work solely with tobacco-free agencies such as Crispin Porter Bogusky

Alex Bogusky, co-founder and chief creative officer of advertising agency CPB, added: “Tobacco companies claim that all their lying and deception is behind them, but they're reaching out to their old advertising friends under new pretences. At CPB, we know agency reputation and new business suffers when a client's goal is selling addiction.

"CVS Health's pledge to Quit Big Tobacco is a strong signal to our industry that cutting ties with the tobacco industry isn't just good practice- it's good business."

Tobacco giants such as Philip Morris have sought to distance themselves from their core product by diversifying into new markets such as life insurance - going so far as to offer discounts to ex-smokers.

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