Rite Aid Healthwashes Cigarette Sales

Pharmacy Brand SmokesThe Rite Aid drug store chain announced that it is once again teaming with the American Heart Association (AHA) to promote AHA's "Go Red for Women" campaign. Rite Aid collects donations of one dollar or more from customers in exchange for little red paper dresses that contain detachable coupons for merchandise. Rite Aid issued a press release touting the campaign and their free "heart health guide" that contains advice on how to prevent heart disease. Absent from the promotion and the press release, and kept quiet by AHA, is the fact that Rite Aid contributes mightily to causing heart disease in women by selling cigarettes.

Rite Aid not only knows cigarettes cause heart disease, but has taken steps to inoculate itself against legal claims arising from that fact. Drug store chains, like Rite Aid, Walgreens and others that sell cigarettes, sign indemnification agreements with tobacco companies to protect against lawsuits that could arise from knowing selling cigarettes, a product that, when used as intended, kills the user. Brown & Williamson, for example, signed an indemnification contract holding Rite Aid harmless against legal action against the chain due to damages, illness, or personal injury arising from selling cigarettes, and promising to pay for Rite Aid's defense in court if they should be sued for selling cigarettes.

So while Rite Aid puts on a public face of caring about women's health by partnering with AHA, what Rite Aid really cares about is not women's health, or anyone's health -- its their bottom line. The same goes for the American Heart Association, which keeps renewing its partnership with Rite Aid, a company that knowingly contributes to this country's burden of heart disease and cancer.