Magazine article Drug Topics

Stopping the Sale of Cigarettes in Pharmacies

Magazine article Drug Topics

Stopping the Sale of Cigarettes in Pharmacies

Article excerpt

The sale of cigarettes in pharmacies is the topic of a letter from a physician in the Nov. 1 issue of Family Practice News. His letter includes the following observations: "That ... chain drugstores continue to profit from the sale of cigarettes makes a mockery of the pharmacist as an ally in health promotion ... I recently received a packet from CVS/Care mark purporting to educate me about 'safe and effective drug therapy' in the management of coronary heart disease ... I filed this packet next to my recent photographs of the electronic billboard at one local CVS that alternately flashes, 'We accept ALL Medicare Rx Plans' and 'Marlboro Carton $30.49."

Some others have such strong concerns about the sale of cigarettes in pharmacies that they have taken action. Last October, the city of San Francisco banned the sale of cigarettes in pharmacies, although pharmacies located inside "big box" or grocery stores are exempt (an unfortunate concession, but one that does not dirninish the importance of the action taken). The mayor of San Francisco is on record as saying, "Pharmacies should be places where people go to get better, not where people go to get cancer." It is noteworthy that the mayor and board of supervisors of San Francisco have a more positive image of pharmacies than the cigarette-selling pharmacies apparently have of themselves.

When we reach the time when we can look back and remember when pharmacies used to sell cigarettes, we will identify the action of the city of San Francisco as the "tipping point" that provided the determination and momentum to get cigarettes out of all pharmacies.

In December, the Boston Public Health Commission approved a ban on the sale of tobacco products at health and educational institutions, including pharmacies and drug stores and college and university campuses. This ban does not include exceptions based on the type of store (e.g., grocery stores) in which the pharmacy is located.

The comments and actions of some chain pharmacies regarding the sale of cigarettes are an embarrassment to the profession of pharmacy. Walgreens, after failing in its effort to obtain a preliminary injunction against the San Francisco ban, has filed a lawsuit challenging the city's action. Wal- greens contends that it is discriminatory for the city to ban the sale of cigarettes in pharmacies but not in the big-box and grocery stores that contain pharmacies (an allegation that should be addressed by eliminating the exceptions). …

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