PHARMACY

SF board votes to ban cigarette sales in pharmacies

BY Alaric DeArment

SAN FRANCISCO Starting this fall, San Francisco will be the first city in the United States to ban pharmacies from selling tobacco products.

The Board of Supervisors voted 8-3 Tuesday to approve an amendment to the city’s health code that Mayor Gavin Newsom proposed April 29. The amendment bans drug stores from selling tobacco products, but does not affect supermarkets and big-box stores that operate pharmacies.

Proponents of the ordinance, including city health officials and anti-smoking groups, said that as centers of health care, drug stores that sold tobacco conveyed its acceptability to customers. Opponents, which included chain drug stores and a labor union representing retail employees, said the ordinance unfairly targeted drug stores and would likely divert smokers from drug stores to other retail outlets rather than discourage smoking.

Earlier in the month, Steve Anderson, president and chief executive officer of the National Association of Chain Drug Stores, sent San Francisco’s mayor a letter, enumerating the reasons why NACDS opposed the ban. Among his points, Anderson said, “It is not credible that prohibiting the sale of tobacco products in traditional drug stores would reduce smoking. Ample other opportunities exist for the purchase of tobacco products. Such a ban would only succeed in making an arbitrary determination as to which retailers would be permitted to sell products that remain legitimate for sale in the state and in the nation. … There is hypocrisy in a policy that would maintain tax revenue from the sale of tobacco products, while depriving one retail segment of sales revenue from these products.”

A spokesperson for NACDS reiterated today that the organization’s position remains unchanged. “Pharmacies are vital providers of healthcare products and services, and smoking cessation products are among their offerings,” Anderson’s letter also stated. “Pharmacists are trained and knowledgeable on the available resources to stop smoking, and often counsel patients on smoking cessation products. It would be better for an individual who smokes to not be dissuaded from entering stores in which smoking cessation resources are available.”

The ban is modeled on similar provincial-level bans in Canada.

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Los Angeles pharmacies report no quake damage

BY Doug Desjardins

LOS ANGELES A 5.4 magnitude earthquake shook Los Angeles on Tuesday but caused no injuries or damage at area drug stores, though a few CVS stores were forced to shut down temporarily.

“A couple of our stores were closed temporarily to clean up merchandise that fell off the shelves during the quake,” said CVS director of public relations Mike DeAngelis. “But we haven’t received any reports of stores significantly damaged by today’s earthquake.”

As of 3:30 p.m. PT on Tuesday, none of the major area retailers including Walgreens, Rite-Aid and Longs Drug reported any damage to stores. The quake centered in the Chino Hills area outside Los Angeles caused some water mains to break but no major structural damage to bridges, buildings or roads. 

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Jewel-Osco launches pharmacy discount plan

BY Doug Desjardins

MELROSE PARK, Ill. Jewel-Osco stores have launched an unprecedented tie-in between their pharmacies and supermarkets with the Prescription Plus program that offers discount coupons for frequent pharmacy purchases.

Jewel-Osco pharmacy customers will receive a 10 percent discount coupon for every five prescriptions they fill at any one of 184 Jewel-Osco stores in Illinois, Indiana and Iowa. The coupons can be redeemed at the checkout stand for purchases made in the supermarket.

“Prescription Plus is Jewel-Osco Pharmacy’s way of responding to tough economic challenges many of our customers face today,” said Tom Rousonelos, vice president of Osco pharmacy operations. “Jewel-Osco aims to offer the most value-added pharmacy experience available.”

The plan will also count transferred prescriptions and refills toward the five prescriptions needed for the discount coupon. Supervalu indicated there are some restrictions on redeeming the coupons at checkout but was not specific.

In addition to prescriptions, the purchase of other services offered at Jewel-Osco pharmacies including immunizations and screenings will apply to Prescription Plus discounts.

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