Tobacco Free Pharmacies Could be the New Standard in Massachusetts

Posted by Melissa Santos

In 2009, Boston passed an ordinance that banned the sale of tobacco products in pharmacies across the city. Needham followed suit and two years later, there are over 52 pharmacies in Massachusetts that have also imposed the ban. A bill was filed in January of 2011 by State Senator Susan Fargo to implement a similar ban across the Commonwealth, including grocery and big box stores.

According to Tobacco Free Pharmacy, over 11,000 Massachusetts residents are killed each year because of smoke-related illnesses. It also costs the state over 1.5 billion dollars annually in lost wages and health care due to premature death and/or disability. The motion to ban tobacco sales in establishments that are essentially designed to promote health and wellness is a sensible decision says Robin Corelli, a Professor of Clinical Pharmacy. “It is unconscionable for a health-care business to promote or profit from the sale of the leading cause of preventable death in the U.S.” Eric J. Ruby, a Taunton pediatrician, recently concurred with Corelli’s view in a letter to the editor of the Taunton Daily Gazette: “How can we, in good conscience, allow a patient to buy medication for asthma, bronchitis, or pneumonia and have tobacco products at the check-out counter?” The push is gaining leverage among local communities including Taunton.

There are those that oppose the measure, believing that it unfairly targets these retail stores that sell more than just pharmaceuticals. Jon Hurst, the president of the Retailers Association of Massachusetts feels that the bill is “discriminatory toward pharmacies” and that “it is taking away an important and legal consumer product line.” He warns that the

current trend will only lead to banning such items as candy and soda or anything that could be seen as potentially harmful to human health. Similarly, opposition comes from smokers who feel their rights are being infringed upon and believing that it will not cease the sales of tobacco, only forcing consumers to visit alternative stores.

The bill has been referred to the Health Care financing committee and if approved would take effect in October of 2012.

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Posted by Melissa Santos on Aug 17 2011. Filed under Health, Top Stories. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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