By AMERICAN HEART ASSOCIATION NEWS
Two-thirds of U.S. adults are strongly or somewhat in favor of banning tobacco sales at pharmacies, according to a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention study released Thursday.
The study, released in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, found that of the more than 4,000 respondents, one half of all cigarette smokers and nearly half of users who smoke other tobacco products said they would support such a policy.
Sixty-six percent of former cigarette smokers and 63 percent of former non-cigarette tobacco users said they would support a policy, while more than 70 percent of individuals who said they have never smoked cigarettes or used other types of tobacco were in favor of a ban.
Meanwhile, about 14 percent of respondents said they strongly oppose a ban.
According to the American Heart Association 2016 Statistical Update, about 44 million adults smoke, costing the nation $289 billion for direct medical care and lost productivity due to premature death each year.
In 2010, the American Pharmacists Association urged pharmacies to stop selling tobacco and pushed state pharmacy boards to discontinue issuing and renewing licenses of pharmacies that sell these products. Calls for banning tobacco products in pharmacies have also come from the American Heart Association, the American Medical Association, the American Cancer Society and the American Lung Association.
According to CDC Director Tom Frieden, pharmacies are increasingly viewed as businesses that improve health, and selling tobacco products is completely at odds with this mission.
Pharmacies also provide evidence-based products to help tobacco users kick the habit. But having customers who may stop to pick up a tobacco-cessation tool — such as nicotine gum — or a prescription drug to help them quit may be tempted into an impulse purchase of tobacco products if they see them on display at the same pharmacy.
Dr. Corinne Graffunder, director of CDC’s Office on Smoking and Health, said such a ban could help “de-normalize tobacco use,” and reduce consumers’ access to tobacco products and exposure to tobacco product advertisements.
Earlier this year, CVS Health kicked off a $50 million campaign — called “Be the First” — to try and create a tobacco-free generation.
In 2014, CVS Health announced it would begin phasing out tobacco sales, saying that profits from the sales are not worth the larger cost in public health. The pharmacy chain reported that despite loss of tobacco sales, its annual revenue increased in 2014 and 2015.
AHA CEO Nancy Brown echoed Frieden’s sentiment in a statement, saying it’s “inconceivable” that business, like pharmacies, committed to the improvement of the nation’s health would continue to sell products “responsible for the deaths of millions of Americans.”
She added, “The public wants this absurd contradiction to come to an end.”