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.