Yesterday the Southborough Board of Health voted unanimously to ban the sale of tobacco products at pharmacies in town, becoming only the seventh municipality in the state to adopt such a regulation.
Of Southborough’s three pharmacies, only the Walgreens on Oak Hill Road and Route 9 currently sells cigarettes. They will have 60 days to comply with the new regulation. The ban includes the sale of cigarettes as well as smokeless tobacco.
Board of Health Chairman Louis Fazen said the proprietors of each of the town’s pharmacies were notified in writing of the proposed ban, but none responded with any comments. No representatives for either Walgreens or Eaton Apothecary — the two pharmacy chains in town — attended yesterday’s public hearing.
Fazen said one of his main objectives in supporting the ban was to limit the exposure kids have to cigarettes. “A pharmacy is an inappropriate way to expose youth to the sale of cigarettes, to make them think that it’s part of a healthy lifestyle,” he said.
Donald J. Wilson, director of the Massachusetts Municipal Tobacco Control Technical Assistance Program, was at yesterday’s meeting. He told board members that for those in the process of quitting smoking, simply seeing cigarettes for sale can cause a relapse. “A pharmacy is where they go to buy the patch or other tools to quit smoking, and then they see a wall of Marlboro’s.”
In the comments yesterday, several of you pointed out that in addition to tobacco products, pharmacies like Walgreens sell a variety of other consumables that are considered unhealthy. Wilson said cigarettes differ from products like Doritos and Pepsi because, “when used as directed, (cigarettes) kill.”
“Combating smoking is a winnable problem,” Fazen said. “It makes sense for us to do what we can.”
Update: For those of you who are curious about what your neighbors think of this decision, the discussion is happening over in this post.