Tobacco products don’t belong in B.C.’s pharmacies

NANAIMO – Pharmacies are places where people go for health care, not to purchase a deadly product.

To the Editor,

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 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 No. 1 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 more than 400 pharmacies and stores that contain a pharmacy that still continue to sell tobacco in B.C. are primarily large chain stores, where corporate head offices place its own business interests above the health interests of its customers and communities.

We, along with our fellow health related organizations the College of Pharmacists of B.C., the B.C. Medical Association and the Canadian Cancer Society, B.C. and Yukon, believe it’s time 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.

It is time B.C. joined the confederation of all the other provinces that have already taken leadership in this important area of tobacco control.

In this instance being late is better than never.

Diego Marchese

CEO, B.C. and Yukon

Heart and Stroke Foundation


Scott McDonald

president and CEO

B.C. Lung Association