Tobacco products taboo in pharmacies according to two thirds of U.S. adults

September 5, 2016

Researchers reported that nearly half of cigarette smokers, as well as nearly half of tobacco users who don’t smoke cigarettes, support such a policy.

Two-third of Americans believe pharmacies should not be allowed to sell tobacco, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.

Researchers reported that nearly half of cigarette smokers, as well as nearly half of tobacco users who don’t smoke cigarettes, support such a policy. In addition, 14% strongly oppose such a policy.

Tom FriedenCDC Director Tom Frieden, MD, MPH said people look to pharmacies to improve and support their health and well-being. “Selling tobacco products, the leading preventable cause of death and disease, goes against the important and growing role pharmacies play in Americans’ well-being,” said Frieden.

Data from the study revealed that a number of communities across the U.S. do not permit the sale of tobacco products in pharmacies. According to the CDC, as of January 2016, 134 municipalities in California and Massachusetts have enacted tobacco-free pharmacy laws.

Initial data suggest that eliminating tobacco product sales in pharmacies does not hurt business. In 2014, CVS Health became the first national retail pharmacy chain to stop selling tobacco products. After implementing the new policy, CVS Health reported that annual revenues increased in 2014 and 2015.  

Although pharmacies can provide evidence-based cessation support and FDA-approved medications, data from the study suggests that the selling and advertising of tobacco products might diminish the impact of these cessation resources by triggering cravings and stimulating impulse purchases that can hinder smokers’ attempts to quit.

 

Corinne Graffunder, director of CDC’s Office on Smoking and Health said, “Tobacco-free pharmacy policies could help reduce access to tobacco products and exposure to tobacco product advertising, as well as de-normalize tobacco use." Graffunder added, “by eliminating tobacco sales, pharmacies can also help increase awareness of the health consequences of smoking and better support their customers’ management of tobacco-related diseases.”

Key findings include:

Those who believe pharmacies should not sell tobacco include:

  • 62% of men and 70% of women

  • 65 of non-Hispanic blacks, 66% of non-Hispanic whites and 67% of Hispanics

  • 67% of adults ages 18 to 24, 64%of adults ages 25 to 44, 65% of adults ages 45 to 64, and 72% of adults 65 and older

  • 47% of current cigarette smokers, 66% of former cigarette smokers, and 72% of never cigarette smokers

  • 48% of current non-cigarette tobacco users, 63% of former non-cigarette tobacco users, 71% of never non-cigarette tobacco users