New York State Could Ban Tobacco Products From Pharmacies
New York Proposal Could Ban Tobacco and Vaping Products From Pharmacies
The state of New York is looking to ban all nicotine products, including vapor liquids and devices, from pharmacies. Recently, similar local proposals were enacted in the state capital, Albany and New York City, and now some legislators in the state are pushing for a statewide ban.
The proposal would particularly affect chains like Walgreens and Rite Aid, that commonly sell tobacco and vapor products like they’re convenience stores. In 2014, CVS voluntarily removed all tobacco and vapor products from their shelves in a nationwide overhaul of the company.
This proposal unfortunately uses language that lumps together vapor products with combustible cigarettes under the broad umbrella of "tobacco products." That tends to reinforce the incorrect public perception that there's no difference between vapor products and combustible cigarettes. In practice, though, vapor products are already a rarity in pharmacies, and it's odd for a health-focused business to be selling any addictive substance like nicotine that doesn't have a medical purpose.
New York State Association of County Health Officials issued a statement saying that the proposal was a “critical” step to remove access to tobacco products.
"Tobacco sales in pharmacies raises ethical questions since tobacco is the only consumer product that, when used as intended, will kill at least one half of its long term users," the association wrote in a memorandum of support, failing to note that while this claim is indisputably true with cigarettes it is not believed to be the case with vapor products according to the best available science. "Tobacco companies use health oriented stores such as pharmacies and drug stores as a tactic to legitimize their products and increase exposure to tobacco marketing and advertising."
One of the main sponsors, Rep. David Carlucci, a Democrat from Rockland County, has long been advocating for a statewide ban on tobacco products in pharmacies. He said that it’s “paradoxical” for tobacco products to be sold in pharmacies because tobacco is detrimental to people’s health.
"Our pharmacies are supposed to be partners in health care," he said.
Carlucci is also one of the main proponents of anti-vaping legislation in the state. In January, he proposed a tax of 25 cents per fluid milliliter on e-liquids, regardless of whether they contain nicotine. He said that vaping was a “loophole” for Big Tobacco, and claimed that tobacco firms were manipulating vapers and “deliberately trying to addict a new generation of smokers.” Needless to say, he’s not a fan of vaping or vapor products.
When CVS voluntarily removed tobacco products from their shelves in all fifty states, they claimed positive results and a reduction in the number of overall smokers.
According to a study conducted by the CVS Health Research Institute, in the eight months after they stopped selling tobacco, there was a one percent reduction in cigarette sales across all retailers in regions where CVS Pharmacy had a sizable presence. In that same eight-month period, smokers bought five fewer cigarette packs and, in total, approximately 95 million fewer packs were sold. Additionally, there was a four percent increase in sales of nicotine patches.
The legislation in New York would give pharmacies one year to remove all their tobacco products and will enforce it with a $2,000 fine if a location doesn’t comply. This is one of a number of proposals by the state to crack down on smoking and vaping products. Governor Cuomo has also announced a proposal to raise the minimum age of vaping products from 18 to 21.