There are close to 550,000 smokers in British Columbia, and 6,000 British Columbians die from smoking related illnesses each year.
For the past four months, the British Columbia government has provided free access to smoking cessation therapies for British Columbians who want to quit. It is a valuable program that would be money well spent if not for the fact that many who are trying to quit must pass through drug stores where cigarettes and other tobacco products are sold to get to the dispensary at the back of the store to pick up their cessation medication.
Smoking is a strong addiction and the temptation of knowing that cigarettes are being sold in the store is often too strong to pass up. And the sale of tobacco in pharmacies is contrary to the health professional role pharmacists play in society.
British Columbia is in the small minority of only three provinces and territories (Manitoba and Yukon being the other two) that still allow cigarettes to be sold in pharmacies. Approximately half of the more than 1,000 B.C. drug stores or other retail establishments that contain a pharmacy still sell cigarettes. It’s time for the British Columbia government to legislate the removal of cigarettes and other tobacco products from British Columbia pharmacies and stores that contain a pharmacy.
Diego Marchese, CEO, BC & Yukon Heart and Stroke Foundation; Suzanne Solven, A/Registrar College of Pharmacists of British Columbia; Scott McDonald, President & CEO BC Lung Association