Trenton – The Senate today approved legislation sponsored by Senator Joe Vitale that would ban the sale of tobacco products at pharmacies in New Jersey. Senator Vitale’s bill, S-1144, would prohibit the sale of all tobacco products and electronic smoking devices at pharmacies.
“This is another step we can take in reducing the serious health consequences of tobacco use, especially for young people,” said Senator Vitale (D-Middlesex), chairman of the Senate Health, Human Services and Senior Citizens Committee. “With tobacco as the leading cause of preventable death and disease in the nation, it makes no sense to have pharmacies sell tobacco products and smoking devices. 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.”
Research shows most smokers begin using tobacco products as minors and that pharmacies are an important point of access for young users, Senator Vitale noted. 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.
The owners of any of these businesses that violate the ban would be subject to a civil penalty of not less than $250 for a first violation, $500 for a second violation, and $1,000 for a third or subsequent violation.
Department stores and food retailers licensed to operate a pharmacy on its premises or lease space to a third party to run a pharmacy would not be subject to the prohibition.
The Senate vote was 25 – 12.