Magazine article Drug Topics

Fire Fighters

Magazine article Drug Topics

Fire Fighters

Article excerpt

Here are three pharmacists who have taken action against smoking in their practice

If you're not involved in promoting smoking cessation to your patients yet, now's the time to do so for two reasons. First, many smokers resolve to quit at the start of a new year. Second, billions of dollars will be going to 46 states over the next few years, thanks to the recent settlement of a suit between Medicaid and major tobacco companies. Some of this money will go toward antismoking programs.

Here are three pharmacists who have joined the fight against smoking:

Jim Beatty, owner of Legend Pharmacy in Bound Brook, N.J., chose to stop selling cigarettes in his store in conjunction with the National Great American Smokeout Day. Even though he expects to lose up to $75,000 in sales per year, he took this step because his father, a smoker, had died of lung cancer. "As pharmacists, we are trying to position ourselves as health-care providers, and yet we're selling something so injurious to everybody's health," he exclaimed.

Along with ditching tobacco, he has relocated stop-smoking aids to the section of his pharmacy where the cigarettes were. And he will sponsor several smoking-cessation seminars for area patients this year. His wholesaler has taken back his unopened cartons of cigarettes, and Beatty hopes to sell the remaining loose packs at a discount to his competitors.

Beatty advises R.Ph.s who plan to discontinue the sale of cigarettes to contact their local cancer society, as he did. The association can help publicize the event in pharmacists' communities, he explained. Every pharmacy should consider removing tobacco from its inventory-specially now, he said, when retailers are running a greater risk from new restrictions the government has set up on the sale of cigarettes to minors.

Robert Gold is another pharmacist who has made a strong push in stubbing out cigarettes. A staff pharmacist at St. Mary's Medical Center in Evansville, Ind., Gold did it on his own time outside the hospital.

He acquired a grant, in accord with Smokefree Indiana, for $50,000 from the Foundation for Community Health. In addition, he obtained a donation from McNeil, procuring a week's supply of its nicotine patches. Using these resources, he started a smoking-cessation program that he has offered a few times and to which more than 1,000 patients have come. At the class, patients were given a voucher that they passed along to a participating community pharmacy, entitling each to a week's supply of patches free of charge and smoking-cessation counseling from the pharmacist. …

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