CVS and AT&T have kicked 2014 off in fine fashion, making bold moves on the corporate social responsibility front.

The 7,600-store chain of CVS Caremark Corp. decided to forgo $2B in annual revenues by dropping the sale of cancer-causing cigarettes, cigars and smokeless tobacco in a bold strike against the rank hypocrisy connected with selling life-saving medicines and peddling agents of disease and death.

“Marlo”
Merlo on CBS Feb. 5.

Former pharmacist and CVS CEO Larry Merlo, who took the helm in 2011, hit the right note, saying: “Cigarettes have no place in an environment where healthcare is being delivered.”

His decision comes as CVS is repositioning from a drug store to a healthcare company, a shift facilitated by ObamaCare.

The American Cancer Society lauded Merlo’s gutsy move. The decision, according to ACS CEO John Seffrin, is “an important new development in the fight to save lives from the devastating effects of tobacco use.”

He applauded CVS Caremark, which uses Edelman for PR, for its “leadership and strongly encourage other industry leaders to follow suit.”

Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer death in the U.S. About 160,000 Americans died from it in 2013, according to an estimate by the ACS. Nearly 230,000 Americans were diagnosed with lung cancer during the past year.

The hope is that Merlo’s leadership shames Walgreens, which markets itself “at the corner of happy and healthy,” Rite Aid and Wal-Mart into following his lead.

AT&T, a long-time sponsor of the U.S. Olympic Committee, took a stand for human rights with support for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender equality just ahead of tomorrow’s opening gala of the Sochi Olympics.

The phone company blasted Russia’s recently passed draconian law that bans “propaganda of non-traditional sexual relations.” AT&T on February 4 released a statement that calls the measure harmful to LGBT individuals and families and a diverse society.

AT&T wants “to be on the record with our support for the LGBT community, and we hope that others involved with the Olympic Games will do the same.”

Ma Bell celebrates “the diversity of all Olympic athletes, their fans, Russian residents and all people the world over, including and, especially, our employees and their loved ones.”

Much of what passes these days for CSR is nothing more than washed-over pablum.

CVS and AT&D did more than talk the talk. They walked the walk.

Congratulations to Merlo and AT&T chief Randall Stephenson for showing the world that Big Business can be a force for good.