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Legislature Supports Ending Pharmacy Tobacco Sales

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Legislature Supports Ending Pharmacy Tobacco Sales

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

The Legislature joined the Tompkins County Board of Health in expressing support of ending the sale of tobacco products in all pharmacies and stores that contain a pharmacy department.  The vote was 12-2, with Legislators Dan Klein and Leslyn McBean-Clairborne voting no.  Calling tobacco products “highly addictive” and responsible for the preventable death of thousands of people in the state each year, the resolution approved by the Legislature maintains that sale of such harmful products by pharmacies and providers of health care represents a conflict of interest.  The measure notes that, according to a consultant’ survey last year, more than half of adult residents of Tompkins County believe pharmacies should not be allow to sell tobacco products; that a majority of pharmacists are opposed to pharmacies selling tobacco; and that Attorneys General of 28 states and territories, including New York, believe that removing tobacco products from stores that contain a pharmacy would be a “step forward in keeping tobacco products away from youth” and preventing youths from starting to smoke.

Public Health Director Frank Kruppa said that the resolution does not have any statutory or legal authority, but is an educational message to encourage pharmacies to not sell tobacco.  Both Health and Human Services Chair Peter Stein and Legislator Kathy Luz Herrera observed that over the years they believe small steps like this have effects on behavior.  Legislator Dooley Kiefer inquired whether the County might to pass a law to regulate such sales if it desired.  County Attorney Jonathan Wood said he didn’t know of another municipality that has done that.  Legislator Klein said he believes pharmacies sell a lot of unhealthy items, such as soda and candy bars, and that he believes eliminating sales at pharmacies would not change the number of people who smoke, but  just where people buy tobacco products.