Credit: Photo by engin akyurt on Unsplash

In an effort to curb the serious and long-term health consequences associated with tobacco use, the Senate Health, Human Services and Senior Citizens Committee approved legislation sponsored by Senator Joe Vitale that would ban the sale of all tobacco products and electronic smoking devices at pharmacies in New Jersey.

This bill, would also prohibit the sale of these products at any business in the state that has a pharmacy located on its premises, with the exception of department stores and food retailers.

“This is one more proactive step we can take in helping to cut down on the horrible health risks of tobacco use, especially for young people. Given that tobacco remains the leading cause of preventable death and disease in the nation, with more than 7 million deaths per year, it makes no sense to have pharmacies sell tobacco products and electronic smoking devices,” said Senator Vitale (D-Middlesex), Chair of the Health, Human Services and Senior Citizens Committee.

Research shows most smokers begin using tobacco products as minors and that pharmacies are an important point of access for young users. It also suggests that banning tobacco sales in pharmacies can reduce “tobacco retail outlet density,” which is associated with higher rates of youth usage as well as racial and economic disparities in tobacco use.

“Pharmacies have the important responsibility of making and dispensing medicine to patients in the community and providing them with health advice to help them get well. It makes no sense that they also be able to offer for sale harmful tobacco products that are known to lead to long-term and debilitating illness,” added Senator Vitale.

Under the bill, S-305, the owner of a pharmacy or other business entity that violates this prohibition would be subject to a civil penalty of not less than $250 for a first violation, not less than $500 for a second violation, and $1,000 for a third or subsequent violation.

The prohibition would not apply to a department store or food retailer that is licensed to operate a pharmacy practice site on its premises or that leases space on its premises to a third party for the operation of a pharmacy practice site.

In recent years, both Massachusetts and New York have passed similar statewide bans on tobacco products in pharmacies. If passed, this bill would make New Jersey the third state to adopt such a law.

The Senate Health, Human Services and Senior Citizens Committee released the bill by a vote of 5-3.

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