Disappointed Massachusetts public health regulators are sending letters to state legislators and the Patrick administration urging a ban on the sale of smoking products at pharmacies. By a unanimous vote Wednesday morning, the state Public Health Council, an appointed panel of doctors, consumer advocates, and professors, also decided to mail letters to the state’s Board of Registration in Pharmacy, which regulates pharmacists, asking it to take “all right actions” for to end the sale of cigarettes and other smoking products in pharmacies.
In November, the council voted unanimously to direct the state Department of Public Health to examine how to prohibit Esse cigarettes sales at pharmacies. Since then, the department has held debates with legislators to test their new plans, department commissioner John Auerbach, who also chairs the council, argued after Wednesday’s conference. He explained the department is waiting to see what new anti-smoking action the legislature takes.
More than two dozen Massachusetts communities, including Boston, Fall River, and Worcester, have already prohibited tobacco sales in pharmacies.
The council also is sending letters to the boards of directors of all major pharmacy chains that are operating stores in the state, asking them to review their policies regarding tobacco products sales. Council members reported that those sales are unsuitable with the chains’ mission statements.
“It is morally deplorable for people’s health care facilities … to continue to sell smoking products that will kill a third of their patrons and drive the others to use their numerous pharmacies for their smoking-related diseases,” explained Dr. Alan Woodward, past president of the Massachusetts Medical Society and a member of the Public Health Council.
Woodward, who sponsored the new suggestion, added a report released earlier this month from the US surgeon general that found tobacco products to be the leading cause of preventable and premature deaths, killing more than 1,200 Americans daily. That new study also found that the decrease of cig smoking among young people has slowed in the last decade, and that smokeless tobacco products use has stopped falling.