New CVS policy already exists in Oswego County pharmacies

CVS Pharmacy has announced that it will no longer sell tobacco products in any of its 7,600 stores by Oct. 1. This change, according to Forbes.com, will result in the loss of $2 billion from the $125 billion annual revenue, a drop of 1.6 percent.  While the pharmacy’s decision made national headlines, pharmacies in Oswego County have been forgoing the sale of cigarettes for several years.

In a letter to the editor on Syracuse.com, Abby Jenkins, program coordinator of the tobacco free network of Oswego County, stated that “the overwhelming majority of independently owned pharmacies in Oswego County already don’t sell tobacco.” Her stance on tobacco sales in pharmacy is summed up in the letter: “No doctor would prescribe tobacco, so why would a pharmacy sell it?”

Jenkins expressed her excitement over the CVS ban on tobacco products.  She said that the CVS ban on tobacco is “one more piece of the puzzle” and a “step in the right direction” to better health.  She believes that smokers will be able to go into a CVS to better their health without the surrounding temptations of tobacco.  To her, it shows that more people are banding together to fight the issue of tobacco abuse.  However, as she said in her letter to the editor, CVS is not the first pharmacy to not sell tobacco.

Independently-owned pharmacies Medicine Shoppe and Hargraves Pharmacy in Fulton do not sell tobacco products.  Zach Merry, a pharmacist from Medicine Shoppe, said his store is “not a proper place to sell tobacco products” because they sell medication and ways to quit tobacco addiction. Robert Lanzafame, a pharmacist at Hargraves Pharmacy, said the store stopped selling tobacco in 1972 because “customers were not helping their health.”

He believes a pharmacy should not be selling those kinds of products.

“I’m impartial to the ban since most drugstores don’t sell at state minimum prices,” Ryan Wisniewski, a smoker who lives in Oswego County said. “But it should help CVS’ image now that they’ve stopped selling a harmful product.”

It is clear that the lives and habits of smokers may not be changed since some had already preferred not to shop at CVS for tobacco.  Nevertheless, the deeds of CVS have not gone unnoticed and many independent pharmacies in Oswego County have already offered a tobacco free-environment.  If this change in CVS’ policies will cause more pharmacies to follow suit and more smokers to quit, only time will tell.