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New Bill Could Ban Ecig Sales in Philadelphia Drug Stores

When you want to buy a new ecigarette, you can usually step into any corner store or pharmacy to get what you need. However, some lawmakers in Philadelphia want to ban the sale of ecigarettes in pharmacies. Councilwoman Marian Tasco started pushing for the new bill last week, but she has already faced a lot of questions and opposition.

The bill would outlaw sales of all “tobacco products, electronic smoking devices, and unapproved nicotine delivery products at establishments where health care services are provided,” and would include retail centers with pharmacies. Council President Darrell Clarke was hesitant about the bill and questioned whether it made sense to ban ecigarette sales in any location since they are legal and regulated by state law.

Others questioned whether the move was smart financially. Last year, the Philadelphia school system gained $40 million thanks to tobacco taxes, but if people can’t buy tobacco products at pharmacies, it could cause a substantial decrease in that much needed revenue.

The bill argues that selling tobacco or ecigarettes in health care centers is misleading. “Tobacco use is one of the leading causes of death and disease in the city of Philadelphia, which has the highest smoking rate of the 10 largest US cities; and tobacco is a unique and deadly consumer product with no safe level of use,” the bill says.

“The sale of tobacco products and electronic smoking deices at establishments where health care services are provided, including pharmacies, is contrary to the health-promoting mission of these organizations, and the availability of tobacco products and electronic smoking devices at establishments where health care services are provided can promote smoking initiation among youth, promote consumption, and prevent successful cessation among adults.”

Mayor Michael Nutter has historically taken a hard line approach to tobacco control, even signing a bill to increase penalties on retailers who sell tobacco to minors. Last year, he pushed for a $2-per-pack tax increase on cigarettes with the proceeds benefiting local schools. He has also banned smoking at local parks.

While it might not seem like a big deal to cut ecig sales out of major pharmacies like Walgreens and Rite Aid, it’s important to remember that ecigs would also be prohibited at grocery stores, big box stores like Wal-Mart, and any location with an onsite pharmacy.

Is this new ecig ban taking things too far? Do you think this bill will do further damage to public health by making ecigs less accessible to smokers?

Electronic Cigarettes • April 5, 2017

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