Suffolk County lawmakers ban tobacco sales in pharmacies

Suffolk County lawmakers ban tobacco sales in pharmacies

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By Donna Deedy

Tobacco continues to hold a top spot as the number one cause of preventable death throughout the world, according to Suffolk County. And county lawmakers have now voted 16-2 to ban the sale of tobacco products in pharmacies. 

“Tobacco harms every organ in the body and is the only legal product sold in America that when used as directed, kills up to half of its long-term users,” said Suffolk County Legislator William “Doc” Spencer (D-Centerport), who co-sponsored the bill.  

The bill’s passage emphasizes that pharmacies are health-focused businesses and aligns with the county’s other efforts to decrease tobacco use. It recently raised the age to purchase tobacco products to age 21, for example, and prohibits smoking in county parks, beaches and Suffolk County Community College.

“This law decreases the bombardment of colorful tobacco displays meant to entice children and it reduces the influence on adults trying to break the addiction to nicotine,” said Lori Benincasa, retired director for health education for Suffolk County.

The new law applies to all tobacco products, including cigarettes, loose tobacco, cigars, powdered tobacco, shisha, herbal cigarettes, electronic cigarettes, electronic liquids, rolling paper and smoking paraphernalia. Consumers will still be allowed to purchase FDA-approved nicotine replacement therapies in pharmacies such as skin patches, nicotine gum and lozenges. 

The ban will take effect 180 days after its filing with the Secretary of State’s office, likely before the end of 2019.