Wegmans is nothing close to a New Seasons or Whole Foods (although they were given an Ethics Award), so I was surprised when I read that they are no longer selling cigarettes or tobacco products. Wegmans does have a track record of enacting food safety policies (Belize farmed shrimp) but organic only gets a small mention.
This ban on tobacco is noteworthy because Wegmans is a large, established grocery chain and based on their consumer health values, bottom line be damned, they are eliminating an entire product category.
The potential impact of Wegmans' decision:
- Wegmans reinforces their values surrounding consumer health, creating more trust from their consumer base.
- Tobacco using consumers will have to change their purchasing habits to buy tobacco elsewhere, which might make Wegmans loose total sales volume.
- Although convenience stores sell more tobacco products than grocery stores, the loss of the category will still effect Wegmans' bottom line.
All this raises some questions about our own product selection:
- Does our inclusive approach mean that we should continue to offer the "better choice" additive-free tobacco products, or should we eliminate tobacco altogether?
- Would our customer's lives change for the better if we stopped carrying tobacco or would we be forcing our customers to buy potentially additives-laden products elsewhere?
- If we know something is unhealthy, should we walk the high road and say, "we will not enable you to live an unhealthy lifestyle"? If so, where do we draw the line on what is "healthy"? (High fructose corn-syrup, GMO, trans-fat, processed foods, plastic packaging, etc.) Could we find adequate substitutes for the products our customers want, but still meet all our standards?