8/12/2013 8:49 PM ET|
Why CVS wants ID for nail polish remover purchases
There's no law requiring the chain to seek identification, but it's gone down this path before with ingredients used to make meth.
Add nail polish remover to the list of items getting the cigarettes-and-booze treatment. According to Boston National Public Radio station WBUR, CVS (CVS) stores in Southern New England now require identification from those buying the beauty product because it contains acetone and iodine -- two of the ingredients that can be used to make methamphetamine.
Yes, for now, you can still get nail polish remover at Walgreens (WAG) and Rite-Aid (RAD) without showing ID. No, this policy hasn't spread beyond New England and small portions of Washington, D.C. Yet.
Once it gets out that a particular product is part of the meth-making process, it doesn't take long for companies to throw up a few barricades between themselves and a liability suit. Right now, there is no state or federal law requiring companies to card for purchases involving nail polish remover, but similar rules aimed at restricting access to the pseudoephedrine found in Sudafed and other medications banished them behind the counter in very little time at all.
Just as your driver's license is scanned every time you buy high-octane cold medicine, CVS locations in southern New England will do the same each time someone buys nail polish remover. It is not known if CVS will hold on to that scanned information for two years, as it is required to by law when someone purchases some Sudafed.
Is this consumer inconvenience helping to solve the problem at all? It depends on how the problem is defined. If the problem is lawsuits against companies who sold ingredients to people who then manufactured methamphetamine -- such as the one that resulted in CVS paying a $77.6 million settlement in 2010 -- then, yes, corporate posteriors are far better shielded than they once were.
Has it stopped anyone from making methamphetamine or diminished the meth trade even slightly? According to Cascade Policy Institute data coming out of Oregon, which has required its citizens to obtain a prescription for cold medicine since 2005, such restrictions haven't diminished meth use at all. In fact, it's only changed the source from local labs to cartel-run superlabs in Mexico.
While that may have done wonders for "Breaking Bad" plot lines, it's become yet another everyday "war on drugs" inconvenience that has yielded no results. The numbers of folks strung out on meth or imprisoned on meth-related charges hasn't decreased and the real-life Walter Whites haven't had trouble finding ingredients, but at least now CVS can hassle some poor 13-year-old from Fall River who just wanted a redo on her chipped-up acrylic.
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