When you think about pharmacies, the expectation is that the pharmacy is there to help you maintain your health and well being. Why do you usually visit your local pharmacy? To pick up medication prescribed by your doctor, to buy something over the counter to aid an ailment you may have had, or to get a flu shot or other vaccination that was being offered. Today, some pharmacists even provide product information and advice, and when you leave, they say "be well." One expectation that we do not have of our pharmacies is that they would sell merchandise that would harm us or negatively affect our health. So why do some pharmacies sell tobacco products, and what can you as the consumer do about it?
Cigarette smoking is the leading cause of preventable disease and death in the U.S. Since pharmacies are structured to help us maintain our health and well being, having them sell tobacco products seems counterproductive. Palmer's Pharmacy in Johnstown and the Gloversville Pharmacy in downtown Gloversville are some of the local pharmacies that have made the choice not to sell tobacco products. Bob Sullivan, at Palmer's, said that Palmer's used to sell tobacco products but made the choice to stop. He feels that pharmacies, part of the health care industry, should not be selling tobacco products.
How does this make you feel and what can you as a consumer do? How about a New Year's resolution to inspire change in your community? The next time you visit the pharmacy, ask the pharmacist if they sell tobacco products and why they have chosen to do so. Speak with the manager and ask him/her to reconsider the decision to sell tobacco products. Also, think of each purchase you make as a "vote," for the item, price and location, and start shopping at pharmacies that do not sell tobacco products. Are you a smoker? Since tobacco is the only consumable product that will kill at least half of the people who use it, how about a New Year's resolution to quit? Call the Smoker's Quit Line at 1-866-697-8487 (nysmokefree.org) for advice, tips and a free starter kit, including a set of patches. You can also join the Smoke Free Support Group that meets at Nathan Littauer Hospital.
WENDY J. CHIRIELEISON
Community health educator,?