Conn. Sen. Blumenthal joins call for pharmacy chains to drop tobacco products

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February 10, 2014, 6:16 pm
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(NECN: Brian Burnell, Hartford, Conn.) - Now that CVS is pulling tobacco off its shelves, the call is out for others to follow suit.  

Conn. Senator Richard Blumenthal and seven other senators have sent letters to Rite Aid and Walgreens urging them to do the same. The reason is simple: Tobacco products have no place in a healthcare environment.

Jeff Seyler with the American Lung Association says "Tobacco is still the leading cause of lung cancer and Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease - COPD - so we call on all retailers to join ranks and remove tobacco."

While there are far fewer independent pharmacies, those we spoke with haven't sold tobacco for years. Rick Carbray opened Apex Pharmacy in Hamden, Conn. in 1976.

"And for 14 years we sold cigarettes and in 1990 made the decision to get rid of them," he says, adding he dropped tobacco products, "Well, based on the fact of health and our customers. It's a health care profession and we were selling a product that was harmful to a person's health."

The question is will the other chains - Rite Aid and Walgreens for example - follow suit? Senator Blumenthal says he thinks they will.

"The time has come and the market impetus is there for these pharmacies to do the right thing and being second is still putting health first," Blumenthal says.

Second? Rick would tell you CVS is actually third.

"I kind of chuckle a little bit. We did it 24 years ago and here, now, CVS is making a major statement about there being a health care profession and they want cigarettes to go.  I mean, 24 years is a long time," he says.

Tags: hartford, connecticut, Brian Burnell, Richard Blumenthal, pharmacy chains, pharmacy chains tobacco products
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