What the Theater can learn from Cigarettes.

In a major win for . . . well . . . everyone . . . CVS became the first national drugstore chain to announce that it was taking all tobacco products, from cigarettes to snuff, off its shelves. It’s their attempt to help those that are trying to quit this life-sucking habit and prevent kids from starting.

It’s awesome and I encourage every other pharmacy to follow their ignoring-of-the-bottom-line lead.

What’s amazing is that it won’t make a dent in the horrific problem we know as tobacco addiction.

I can’t help but wish the theatre was that addictive. Think about it.  We’ve got a lot in common with this cancer causer (minus the harmful chemicals and the manipulation of the youth, of course).

Like theater tickets, cigarettes are ridiculously expensive (and keep going up every year). You can’t get ‘em everywhere, and usage is limited to specific locations.  It’s not as cool to be a smoker as it used to be, and as much as we hate to admit it, to most of the population, it’s not the coolest thing to want to go see a play anymore either.

But despite all that, cigarette enthusiasts will do anything, go anywhere, and pay just about anything to fuel their addiction even when they know how bad it is for them!  (If this country wasn’t founded on tobacco, it would have been outlawed decades ago.)

So how . . . how can we create this kind of fever . . . or even half of this fever in the general population?  What do we need to do to our product, to our marketing, to our customer service to not make people want to see a Broadway show, but to need to see a Broadway show?

That, my friends, if you choose to accept it, is our challenge.

Oh, and if you smoke, please quit.  In fact, first five smokers to email me that say they want to quit, I’ll buy you your first Nicoderm Patch when you sign your stop-smoking pledge.  I’ll also bug you constantly about how quitting will help you add years to your life.  Email me here.


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Ken created one of the first Broadway podcasts, recording over 250 episodes over 7 years. It features interviews with A-listers in the theater about how they “made it”, including 2 Pulitzer Prize Winners, 7 Academy Award Winners and 76 Tony Award winners. Notable guests include Pasek & Paul, Kenny Leon, Lynn Ahrens and more.