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Smoker and Non-Smokers Respond to New Cigarette Sale Ban at Reading Pharmacies

Cigarettes are still sold at 20 stores.

Smokers have four fewer places to buy cigarettes in Reading: CVS, two  stores and .

The Board of Health banned the sale of tobacco products at pharmacies and drug stores and other health care institutions, starting last month. The intent of the effort, funded by a state grant and initiated by the Reading Coalition Against Substance Abuse’s Youth Crew, is to reduce the use of tobacco products by youths, according to Tobacco Coordinator for the Mystic Valley Tobacco and Alcohol Program Maureen Buzby.

Selling tobacco products at pharmacies doesn’t make sense Buzby, told Patch, because they are health care institutions.

The ban, which took effect this past July 1, has drawn mixed responses.

“It’s ridiculous” -- a pain in the rear --said John Cola, sitting in a car Monday outside Walgreen’s and puffing on a cigarette.

Cola, from Lynnfield, now gets his smokes elsewhere – at a Walgreens outside Reading or at a gas station, he said.

Taryn Goucher, who works at the Reading Walgreens and described herself as a nonsmoker, is “happy I don’t have to sell cigarettes anymore.”

The ban takes away people’s right to make a choice about whether to smoke or not, said Julie LeBlanc, who also said she did not smoke. LeBlanc works at the Rite Aid on Haven Street.

As a result of the ban, sales are down “drastically” there, she told Patch. When people used to come in for smokes, they’d pick up other items, too, she said.

Twenty stores in Reading can still sell tobacco products, according to Buzby.  They need a permit from the Board of Health and the Department of Revenue, she said.

At one of those stores, the P&S Convenience Store on Lowell Street, Manager Frank Connors said he’s noticed an increase in cigarette sales.  The store doesn’t sell many cigarettes, he said, but “we do sell more now” since the ban took effect. His store is not geographically close to the pharmacies in town, he noted.

At the Shell Gas Station and Convenience Store on south Main Street, employee Amy Patel said she sees no difference in cigarette sales. There are a lot of stores around there that sell them, she noted.

A short distance north on Main Street at the Mobile Mart, Sandip Patel said all his sales are down since he bought the store two months ago.

Pharmacies have “seen (the ban) coming,” according to Buzby. In communities with no ban, pharmacies are asking, she said, “When is it coming?”

A CVS employee declined to talk to Patch about the new ban, citing company policy.

On the front window of CVS are two signs that pertain to cigarette smoking and youths.

Don’t use your ID to buy tobacco for minors, that is, those under age 18, according to one sign.

“Under 18. No tobacco. We card,” says the other.

Buzby said no complaints were recorded in the seven communities she oversees about pharmacies selling tobacco products to minors and no violations were found during compliance checks in Reading.

SFennelly August 16, 2012 at 02:01 PM
The difference between adults and children is the fact that children still need to be taught about decisions and consequences where adults should be capable of that all by themselves. By taking away that ability by all these regulations we are creating a society of "It's not my fault, nobody told me....!" Smoking is a nasty habit and causes cancer and numerous other diseases but it is also a commodity. The only way it is going to go away is when adults decide not to buy them anymore and companies lose profits. This is just like teenagers and alcohol. If they can't get it one place they will just sneak around and go somewhere else. Only this is adults the only people who are going to lose are the companies and the people that work there who lose their jobs. Instead of taking the decision away, start teaching people how to make decisions for themselves!!
Laura Savage-Carr August 16, 2012 at 10:54 PM
Great work RCASA! You can't prevent to sale of illegal drugs at Reading HS, so instead ban the sale of a legal product at certain local businesses.
Laura Savage-Carr August 16, 2012 at 11:00 PM
So much for freedom of choice. Will Plan B pills still be available for sale?
A. Horch August 18, 2012 at 10:59 AM
I saw some sleds being sold at a Walgreens last winter. Did you know that there are over 20,000 visits to the ER each year due to sledding accidents?! Given that pharmacies, sell first aid supplies, they should certainly be banned from selling anything that could induce injury. Who do I have to call?
A. Horch August 18, 2012 at 11:02 AM
Isn't it ironic that they are being banned from selling a product that might shorten life, but employees are forced to sell a product that will prevent or end life????

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