Pharmacies in Suffolk County will be barred from selling tobacco products under a law passed yesterday by the county legislature yesterday.

Sponsored by legislator William Spencer,a physician and Rudy Sunderman, the bill, hailed by public health advocates, passed 16-1.

The bill prohibits the sale by pharmacies of all tobacco products, including cigarettes, loose tobacco, chewing tobacco, cigars, powdered tobacco, shisha, herbal cigarettes, electronic cigarettes, electronic liquids, rolling paper, and smoking paraphernalia, are prohibited from sale in pharmacies.

Consumers will still be able to purchase nicotine replacement therapies authorized for sale by the FDA, such as skin patches, nicotine gum and lozenges, all determined to be suitable cessation products.

“Tobacco continues to hold the top spot as the number one cause of preventable death throughout the world,” Spencer said. Tobacco products kill nearly 500,000 Americans each year, he said in a press release.

“Responsible for at least 12 cancers and a multitude of other diseases, tobacco harms nearly every organ of 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,” he said.

“Pharmacies should support and foster public health, and the sale of tobacco products at these establishments is directly at odds with this common sense goal.”

Some pharmacies, such as CVS, have voluntarily discontinued selling tobacco.

The American Pharmacists Association, the American Society of Health-Systems Pharmacists, the American Medical Association and the American Academy of Pediatrics, along with many other health professionals, support a ban on pharmacy sales of tobacco products.

The legislation passed yesterday includes a civil penalty of up to $2,000 per instance, after a hearing before the Commissioner of the Suffolk County Department of Health Services.

The law will take effect 180 days after filing with the New York secretary of state.

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Denise Civiletti
Denise is a veteran local reporter, editor, attorney and former Riverhead Town councilwoman. Her work has been recognized with numerous awards, including investigative reporting and writer of the year awards from the N.Y. Press Association. She is a founder, owner and co-publisher of this website.Email Denise.