Albany County Legislature proposes ban on pharmacy tobacco sales

March 27, 2018 11:16 PM

ALBANY – The Albany County Legislature is getting another go around on a proposed local law.

Four years ago Albany County Executive Dan McCoy vetoed legislation that would have banned pharmacies from selling tobacco products.

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A public hearing on the proposal that has been brought up again was held Tuesday night.

"It sends a message to particularly youth that are going into pharmacies to get medications and says that tobacco is okay,” said Legislator Paul Miller (D) of District 31.

Miller said when this proposal came up several years ago, but now times have changed. 

“Rockland County adopted it, New York City is adopted it, the same prohibition,” added Miller. “Originally Albany County would have been the first county to enact this if we went through with it last time and also we adjusted some of the issues the County Executive had when he vetoed it."

Only one person at Tuesday night’s public hearing didn't agree with the ban. A representative with Food Industry Alliance said some pharmacies in grocery stores already conceal that they sell tobacco products. He said it will force the consumer to go to another location that may advertise tobacco heavily. 

But one mother is strongly in favor of the ban.

“It makes no sense when a mom like me has to frequent a pharmacy to get antibiotics with her kids in tow to get the medicine has to subject her kids to big tobacco’s marketing through advertising, but also through the display of their product,” said Sara Phelps.

Also in favor of the ban, a representative from the American Heart Association.

"In Albany County alone there's 81 pharmacies and 41 percent of those continue to sell tobacco products,” said Government Relations Director for the American Heart Association Caitlin O’Brien. “We actually have a higher percentage of pharmacies selling tobacco products in Albany County than we do state-wide combined and that should concern everyone here.”

According to the New York State Health Department, smoking kills about 28,000 adult New Yorkers every year. Legislator Miller said it’s time for the pharmacies to get with the times.

"CVS has eliminated the sale of tobacco and currently there's no independent pharmacies in the county that are selling tobacco,” said Miller. “So we felt we needed to do something to move the rest of the pharmacies along.”

Now that a public hearing has been held the resolution will have to go back to the health and law committees. If approved there, it will then go up for a vote next month.


Emily De Vito

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