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Shelby businesses going anti-tobacco

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CVS pulling cigarettes from shelves, Waffle House, others ban smoking

By Lisa King

One Shelby County retail outlet is taking the bold move to remove cigarettes from their shelves, and while most aren’t following that model, smoking does appear to on the way out.

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This fall, CVS/pharmacy outlet across the nation will remove all tobacco products from their premises.

The Shelbyville store, located at the intersection of Freedom’s Way and U.S. 60, is just one of the 7,600 CVS outlets that will be taking part in the surprising move, but company officials said it’s an important move to follow the company’s mission.

Larry J. Merlo, president and CEO of CVS Caremark, which owns CVS/pharmacy, said the decision would help CVS take a step forward for the health and well being of its customers.

“Ending the sale of cigarettes and tobacco products at CVS pharmacy is the right thing to do for our customers and our company to help people on their path to better health,” he said. “Put simply, the sale of tobacco products is inconsistent with our purpose.”

Management at the Shelbyville store would not address the issue.

While CVS may be one of the first national chains to make the move, it isn’t alone locally.

Matthew Andrews, owner of Andrews Pharmacy on Midland Trail, said he would not, and has never, sold tobacco products in his store.

“The issue with pharmacies is that you’re trying to promote healthy living, and it [selling tobacco] goes against what you’re trying to do,” he said.

Walgreen’s Manager Karen Arnold said the idea has been discussed but no decisions have been made.

“There has been talk, but we have no plans to stop selling tobacco,” said Walgreens Manager Karen Arnold.

Officials from Rite-Aid’s corporate office did not specifically address the issue.

“We are always evaluating options and programs for our store and our customers,” said Ashley Flowers, senior public relations manager for Rite Aid Corporation.

“Rite Aid offers a wide variety of smoking cessation products and provides additional resources, including our pharmacists, who are available to counsel people trying to stop smoking.

And pharmacies aren’t the only ones contemplating and moving toward tobacco free stores and workplaces.

 

More restaurants go smoke free

With no city or county ordinances, the smoke-free environment remains an individual choice in Shelby County for business owners. However, smoking is banned in city and county buildings.

But more and more restaurants are making the healthier choice.

Cattleman’s Restaurant adopted a no-smoking policy last year and despite early worries that it would hurt business, Manager Terry Daniels said it hasn’t.

“We actually gained customers,” he said. “We did lose some bar business, but some of them came back.”

Waffle House Restaurants, near the interstate on KY 55 and KY 53 in Shelbyville, went no-smoking at the start of March and employees, even the smokers, have enjoyed the change.

“We have had a good response to it overall,” District Manager Anthony Boone said, adding that the Waffle House chain, including the 17 stores in his district throughout Ohio and Kentucky, all went smoke free.

Waffle House servers Maria Blair, John Metts and Alice Store, who all work at the Howard Drive location, said that they lost a few third shift customers, but said they [customers] had “only been sitting around drinking coffee and arguing about politics anyway.”

The three servers – all smokers – admitted that not having customers smoking around them had an unexpected benefit.

“It has helped me, because I don’t want it [cigarette] as much now because I’m not always smelling it,” said Metts, who has been working at the store since 2007.

“This way, we get to go outside and get some fresh air every once in a while,” said Blair, referring to “smoke breaks,” that employees take outside the building.

Waffle House customers Kim Peyton and Wallie Masters of Waddy, had varying opinions on the restaurant’s new no-smoking policy.

“I don’t like it, because I smoke,” Peyton said.

“Well, it don’t make much difference to me one way or another,” said Masters, who said he stopped smoking years ago.

The store employees said that Peyton’s attitude mirrors that of many customers, but that doesn’t stop them from coming in.

“They just go out and take a smoke and come back in,” she said.

Charmayne Brunker, manager of Tumbleweed, who said she stopped smoking 20 years ago, said she wished that that her store, located on Midland Trail, would also adopt a no-smoking policy, like many restaurants around the state have done.

“But this is Shelbyville,” she said. “It’s tobacco country.”

 

Tobacco history, holdouts

That importance of the tobacco industry in Shelby County is a main concern for some businesses, especially retails outlets such as convenience stores, which continue to sell tobacco products.

Ruth Hodge, co-owner of It’s Convenient on U.S. 60, said that while her store doesn’t sell as much tobacco as in the past, she would not consider banning the product because of the county’s rich heritage in tobacco farming.

“Up until lately, Shelby County just depended on tobacco so much, and until recently that’s what our business depended on to a great extent,” she said. “Unless it was mandated, we would never contemplate getting rid of our cigarettes.”

Even though, she said, sales are decreasing.

“More and more people have stopped smoking,” she said, but added that the store still sells a lot of smokeless tobacco products, including E-Cigarettes.

She and her husband, Tom, also permit customers to enjoy a smoke while sitting at tables in the dining portion of the store.

“We wouldn’t hardly take their money and then tell them they couldn’t be in here [smoking],” she said.