ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — Beginning Monday, tobacco can no longer be purchased at local pharmacies. New York State is officially putting an end to a practice that health advocates say leads to addiction, illness and death.
Under the new law, pharmacies like Walgreens will no longer be allowed to sell any cigarettes or tobacco. The only exception are products that help you quit smoking. Health advocates have long pointed out the mixed message of selling cigarettes along side smoking cessation patches and gum.
“It really solidifies our public health message,” says Annalisa Rogers, Director of the Smoking and Health Action Coalition. “Stores that sell products designed to heal people shouldn’t also be selling products that are a detriment to their health.”
The new law also bans the sale of flavored e-cigarettes at all stores. Studies have shows these products attract kids. According to the American Lung Association, some 40% of high school seniors in New York State use e-cigarettes. 27% of overall high schoolers do the same.
“We know that flavors attract them but the nicotine is what potentially leads them to use tobacco products,” Rogers says. “And that in itself is problematic because that contributes to the next generation of tobacco users as long-term users. So we’re hopeful that (new law) will deter a lot of people from wanting to smoke.”
Some pharmacies didn’t wait for a law to ban tobacco sales. CVS pulled cigarettes from their store shelves more than 5 years ago. Now the rest of the chains must do the same. Advocates say it’s a positive step for public health in New York.