PARK SLOPE – Brad Lander will take another victory lap for his anti-smoking legislation, this time as the bill to prohibit the sale of cigarettes and other tobacco products at pharmacies goes into effect on January 1, 2019.
The measure prohibits New York City pharmacies from selling tobacco products, including supermarkets and large retailers with a pharmacy section. The measure is part of a bundle of bills in support of the city’s cigarette and tobacco control efforts.
“Banning cigarette sales in pharmacies—stores that are all about promoting health—will save lives,” Lander told Bklyner. “Strong evidence shows that just being exposed to nearby tobacco retailers makes kids twice as likely to smoke.”
City Councilman Brad Lander first introduced the Int 1131-2016 in April 2016. In August of 2017, city lawmakers voted overwhelmingly in support of the measure with Robert Cornegy and Peter Koo abstaining and Republican Councilman Erich Ulrich voting against the measure. Later in the month, Mayor Bill de Blasio signed the bill into law during a ceremony at Kings County Hospital.
While CVS Pharmacy banned the sale of cigarettes in 2014, about 600 of the 2,700+ pharmacies in the city have a license to retail cigarettes. After December 31, 2018, pharmacies will not be allowed to renew or apply for a license to sell tobacco products.
Tobacco use causes an estimated 12,000 deaths in New York City each year, according to the New York City Department of Mental Health and Hygiene (DOMHH). More than 860,000 adults and 13,000 youths still smoke in the city, despite gradual declines in smoking rates.
“Tobacco use remains one of the leading causes of preventable death in New York City, and reducing its availability is key to protecting the health of New Yorkers,” said Deputy Mayor for Health and Human Services Dr. Herminia Palacio in a statement. “People trust pharmacies to help them stay well – they should be helping smokers quit, not the opposite. I’m excited to see the impact that this regulation will have on the health of New Yorkers.”
The other bills packaged in the measure to reduce tobacco use will raise the price of tobacco, cap the number of retailers citywide and require all residential buildings to create and distribute a smoking policy to existing and prospective tenants. One bill looks to create a retail license for e-cigarettes and cap the number of retailers permitted to sell them.
“Smoking remains the #1 cause of preventable death in New York City,” Lander added. “I’m proud that on New Year’s Day 2019, we are doing something about it.”