Westwood Pharmacies to Stop Tobacco Sales

The Westwood Board of Health issued approved the new regulation this week.

The Westwood Board of Health this week approved a measure to prohibit the sale of tobacco products at the two pharmacies in town: on Washington Street and on High Street.

The move is not new; severeal in the immediate area have already enacted such a law, such as in Walpole and Needham, Shea said. 

"There's been a big push to prohibit (pharmacies) from selling tobacco, because it's almost a contradiction," said Westwood Health Director Linda Shea. "It is a town-by-town thing. Many of the towns around us have already revised their regulation to include pharmacies as a health care institutions, because many of them have clinics now, and many offer flu shots."

The new law will go into effect once Shea has submitted a legal notice regarding the matter, which she expects to do next week.

Currently, 11 retail venues in Westwood sell tobacco, a number that will decrease to 10 after the new measure takes effect. Walgreens does not currently sell tobacco, but the Board of Health notified the store in case it chose to look at selling the product down the road. Shea said there was no pushback or resistence from either pharmacy in regards to the new regulation.

Some supermarkets also feature an in-house pharmacy; Roche Bros. does not, however. 

Years ago, it was typical for even hospitals to sell tobacco in their gift shops. But after research over time revealed the health issues related to first-, second- and third-hand smoke, more and more health agencies have stopped selling tobacco products. 

"Pharmacies were the last places where you could still purchase tobacco products," Shea said. "I think it's good, it's a step in the right direction."

Adding to that, the Board of Health also raised its annual fees issued to retailers in town that sell the product. The fee has increased from $200 to $300. 

That move, Shea said, came after the board looked at its current fees this past March, when it realized several fees hadn't been raised since 1995. 

But the raise in fees could not take effect until the regulation was amended, and as such it was the appropriate time to move forward with the tobacco prohibition at local pharmacies. 

Both the regulation and the new fees will take place close to July 1, Shea said.

John Craine June 16, 2011 at 12:04 PM
I'm not sure what to think about this. Is it good intentions gone awry or is this the proverbial camel's nose under the tent? I support overall goals to reduce tobacco use through education, and I'd support a town-wide ban on tobacco sales if the community so voted. But I don't follow the logic of "it's almost a contradiction" for a pharmacy to sell tobacco. If you're going to prohibit sales of unhealthy products at pharmacies you need to go a lot deeper than tobacco. What about all the candy and sugary foods? How about the carcinogenic and endocrine disrupting health and beauty products lining the shelves? So the application of this new regulation affects exactly ONE business. I would be a lot more impressed if the BOH enacted a blanket ban on tobacco sales to take effect in three years. This would give local merchants time to work on replacing the lost source of revenue and achieve the implied aim of eliminating tobacco from our town.
Joy June 16, 2011 at 09:44 PM
The purpose of pharmacies, by virtue of the name, is to provide medications & promote health& healing. Tobacco does none of this - it does the opposite. Selling tobacco conveys several messages: 1) they promote products that CAUSE disease & death rather than being curative; 2) by promoting these products they make money through those sales as well as the sales of products needed to treat the diseases that tobacco causes; 3) they are profiting off of Big Tobacco whose sole purpose is to make money by selling products that cause disease & kill; 4) their ONLY concern is to make money & with no concern of the overall health status of the communities & people they serve. Therein, lies the conflict of interest. By curtailing sales of tobacco products, it improves health, lengthens lives and decreases health care costs. Tobacco use is a huge public health problem that affects us all. 440,000 people die each year in the U.S. from its use; 50,000 die from exposure to secondhand smoke. That is more than deaths from alcohol, AIDS, accidents, suicides, homicides, and illegal drug use combined! The cost of this to all of us is in the Billions of dollars - we all pay through higher insurance premiums & through paying for health care for the uninsured. Businesses have higher costs from employees who use tobacco - they have more illnesses which increases their health care costs and insurance premium rates, and they have higher absenteeism from work.
Joy June 16, 2011 at 09:50 PM
For more information go to: http://www.cdc.gov/tobacco/
Joy June 16, 2011 at 09:53 PM
One step at a time. It would be virtually impossible to get agreement on something so sweeping because 1) too many people cant tolerate big changes, and 2) the business community would be up in arms about revenue loss and would make sure it didn't happen (there is more support for leaving business alone to make money, than improving health.)
Greg Agnew July 27, 2011 at 08:50 PM
Another poor decision by the Town of Westwood, who, in most "outsider's" minds, is already considered a Town where very few "adult" activities are permitted. First, beer & wine carry-out sales are forbidden, then the "adult zoned district" is placed in a terribly undesirable location where no one could ever develop, and now, not allowing tobacco sales in Pharmacies. In no way do I encourage drinking, smoking, or "strip-tease," but I am a defender of corporations being able to make their own business decisions, and sell legal products to of-age consumers whenever they so please. It is wrong for the Westwood Board of Health to impose such a childish, and potentially detrimental law. This is certainly a case of John Craine's aforementioned "camel's nose under the tent" scenario. In no way should boards, committees, or any other governing authority ever strip a business of the right to sell a certain legal product. What about the corporations' right to make a profit? What if tobacco sales were allowing CVS in Islington to survive and hire employees from our own hometown? CVS, Walgreens, Rite Aid, etc., has always sold tobacco products, along with harmful prescription drugs, sugar-filled candies that promote obesity, carcinogenic beauty supplies, and other harmful items. If you're going to forbid tobacco on the basis of it being a harmful product in a "health conscious" establishment, you're going to have to remove half of CVS' inventory.


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