On May 31, 2013, British Columbia will have the infamous distinction of being the only Canadian province that still allows tobacco to be sold in pharmacies and stores that contain a pharmacy.
Pharmacies are places where people go for health care, not to purchase a deadly product that, when used as directed, is still the number one cause of preventable death and disease in the province.
The argument is often made that forcing pharmacies to stop selling tobacco will economically hurt small business – “the little guy” – the independently owned and operated neighbourhood pharmacy.
This argument is a fallacy as the vast majority of those independently owned and operated pharmacies in B.C. have already made the voluntary and health-promoting decision not to sell tobacco.
The over 400 pharmacies and stores that contain a pharmacy that still continue to sell tobacco in B.C. are primarily large chains stores, whose corporate head offices are placing their own business interests above the health interests of their customers and communities.
We, along with our fellow health related organizations the College of Pharmacists of B.C., the BC Medical Association and the Canadian Cancer Society, BC and Yukon, believe it’s time that the provincial government did the right thing to make drug stores truly places of health care and legislate the removal of cigarettes and other tobacco products from British Columbia pharmacies and stores that contain a pharmacy.
It is time that B.C. joined the confederation of all the other provinces who have already taken leadership in this important area of tobacco control.
In this instance, being late is better than never.
Diego Marchese, CEO, BC and Yukon Heart and Stoke Foundation, Scott McDonald, president and CEO of BC Lung Association