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Councilor Seeks to Ban Cigarette Sales in South Windsor Pharmacies

Dr. Saud Anwar argues that a business that deals in health care sends out a mixed message by selling cigarettes.

A town councilor is seeking to prohibit town pharmacies from selling tobacco-related products in their establishments.

Councilor Dr. Anwar Saud most recently brought up the proposal at the Town Council meeting on Monday, stating that he was seeking an ordinance prohibiting, among other things, the sale of cigarettes or, at the very least, a resolution from the council that set forth the town’s position against such sales.

The rationale behind the push, according to Saud, is that pharmacies are now opening front-line medical clinics, and the sale of cigarettes at such establishments sent out mixed messages. Saud specifically mentioned CVS, which opened a MinuteClinic within its South Windsor store. CVS also sells cigarettes, which are offered behind the front counter.

“My hope is to restrict pharmacies from selling tobacco-based products because they put the health of patients in jeopardy,” Saud said in a telephone interview. “It’s also about the sanctity of facilities that deal with people’s health.”

While several councilors on Monday said that they were vehemently opposed to smoking (Councilor Cary Prague said that he won’t buy products for his business from a vendor who smells of smoke), Mayor Tom Delnicki said that he was concerned about passing a measure that could lead down “a slippery slope.”

“First it's cigarettes, then it’s Slurpees, then it’s Big Gulps,” Delnicki said referring to two popular products that are offered by the convenience-store chain 7-Eleven.

But Anwar on Tuesday drew a distinction between products sold at pharmacies such as candy bars and sodas, things that, if consumed to excess, can lead to health problems, and tobacco-related products like cigarettes.

“Cigarettes are unhealthy for people consuming them and also for people around them,” Anwar said, referring to second-hand smoke. “Also, hardly any hospital allows people to consume cigarettes within its own facility. We have evolved as a society where we are trying to protect the community from harming itself or others in the process. …

“It’s a good idea to put a value on people above profit.”

After a brief discussion on Monday, it was decided that the matter would be referred to the town attorney to research whether it was lawful for the town to pass an ordinance that essentially targets one or two pharmacies, while leaving out other businesses such as convenience stores.

South Windsor isn't the only municipality that is examining ways of controlling within its borders the sale or possession of products that can be harmful to residents.

According to a published report by MassLive.com, 25 communities have banned the sale of tobacco products from pharmacies and supermarkets that have pharmacies. Springfield passed such a measure in May.

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg recently proposed a controversial ban on the sale of sugary beverages over 16 ounces in restaurants, stadiums and movie theaters.

In 2008, the Supreme Court struck down a Washington D.C. measure that banned the ownership of handguns within the city.

doug July 18, 2012 at 01:18 PM
This is crazy! Please don't try to micromanage our lives and freedom of decision making.
Deborah Brown July 18, 2012 at 04:10 PM
This is a bold initiative that may be unpopular in the short term but all statistics and past experiences point to it improving community health and reducing costs on healthcare. Kudos to the councilor.
William July 18, 2012 at 04:19 PM
Wonderful. Pharmacies are places that promote health -- when cigarettes are readily available at their counters right next to breath mints, it sends the message that they can't be that bad for you after all. In fact, smoking increasing the chances of developing lung cancer by 23 times and 90% of lung cancer deaths can be traced directly back to smoking. Yes, keep cigarettes out of our pharmacies. It's like selling alcohol at Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) meetups.
doug July 18, 2012 at 07:36 PM
A store like CVS is set up for multi-use purposes. There is a convenience store. There is a pharmacy. They don't sell the cigarettes (or the soda, gum and toys) at the pharmacy. That is sold in the retail convenience store section. Are you telling me you think people who smoke don't know it is unhealthy? They know the risks and choose to indulge. And they should be allowed to. I guess we should also be removing soda, candy, and any animal based products from the store premises? Some people would consider those hazardous to your health too.
Ken July 19, 2012 at 12:37 AM
Asking for a lawsuit. If you want to ban (not that I agree), then ban for all stores, but be ready for the consequences. (Loss of business that generates revenues from tobacco, not to mention less convenience stores available in town). How about banning the drug paraphernalia that you can buy in some gas stations?
Marcy Elliot July 19, 2012 at 01:06 AM
"It was decided that the matter would be referred to the town attorney to research..." Really?! Nice use of tax money, paying an attorney to "research" if it would be lawful. Smokers probably just drive down the street to the discount cigarette store anyway. It is unfortunate that the Councilor does not believe that residents of South Windsor have the ability to think for themselves.
William July 19, 2012 at 04:05 AM
Is it OK to sell cigarettes at hospitals? Then why should we allow them to be sold at our pharmacies? And someone needs to tell Mayor Delnicki that Slupees don't cause cancer, what an absurd comment! Clearly he hasn't lost a loved one to lung cancer, incredibly insensitive.
William July 19, 2012 at 04:16 AM
Paying an attorney's research fee is nothing compared to the magnitude of savings in healthcare costs by reducing the consumption of cigarettes. Let's not be penny wise pound foolish.
Jack July 19, 2012 at 02:17 PM
I am tired of having decisions to make in life. Choices are exhausting. Can we please continue to elect leaders who are wise enough to take decisionmaking out of my daily life.
Cindy July 19, 2012 at 05:14 PM
Cigarettes are the leading cause of needless disease, disability and death in the Country. They are more addicting than other drugs and alcohol. I am glad that councilors Anwar, Prague and Yagaloff showed unity in taking on the powerful pharmacy which is putting profits before people. As a proud and successful quitter of cigarettes 9 years ago, I still get an urge every time I see someone smoking. I miss the time when we had more than one pharmacy. The small community pharmacy always placed us before their profits. I am happy that someone has the courage to stand up for the future of South Windsor people.
Diane Abrahms July 19, 2012 at 07:17 PM
I will get my prescriptions from another pharmacy in Manchester which does not sell cigarettes. Thank you Dr. Anwar for being there for the people.
Pam Petersen July 22, 2012 at 12:24 AM
Oh for crying out loud....do they have NOTHING else to do other thank decide where people can and can not buy commodities, then this town is much better off than I thought. Let's stick to POLITICS and TOWN BUSINESS........let the retailers decide what they sell or don't sell!!!!
Matthew July 23, 2012 at 12:21 PM
Yet the SW Town Council granted a 7 year tax assessment reduction deal to NuWay Tobacco on Sullivan Ave when they expanded their tobacco processing plant in 2010. If the Council wants to take a serious stance on tobacco, then stop bowing to Tobacco $$. Talk about mixed messages. How about a ban on the growing or processing of tobacco in SW. Of course, this would require true direction, organization and courage by the Council members.....

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