The Putnam Examiner

Talks of Preventing Tobacco Sales in Pharmacies Reignited

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After striking down a law that would prevent tobacco sales in pharmacy stores within Putnam County last year, the legislature is revisiting the possibility.

The Health, Social, Education, and Environmental Committee revisited the idea at its March 11 meeting, with Legislator Ginny Nacerino asking the topic to be brought up again. Nacerino, who actually voted against the measure at the legislature’s October full meeting, changed her mind after CVS made the decision to stop all tobacco sales in February.

“My consideration has changed,” Nacerino said during the meeting. “Because government does play a role.

“It’s going to branch out from a private corporation to government and we should be first,” she said referring to possibly getting the ban passed this time around. She added if Putnam doesn’t pass it, another county legislature would eventually adopt it.

“Promoting health does not mix with encouraging things that are unhealthy,” she said.

When the legislature voted back in October to pass the measure, it failed by a 7-2 margin. Only Legislators Sam Oliverio and Barbara Scuccimarra voted for it. Both of them, who were on the Health Committee back then, and are still on it today, once again advocated for the ban.

Oliverio emphasized he doesn’t want to ban all tobacco sales, just in places where residents are suppose to receive health and welfare care. He said pharmacies should not “provide tickets to death.”

But while Nacerino might have had a change of heart, other legislators are still opposed to the idea.

Legislator Roger Gross, who voted against it last time, said passing the law could create a “slippery slope.” Government shouldn’t have a part in making decisions for businesses, he noted.

“Is the temperance movement next for Putnam County because alcohol certainly isn’t healthy,” he said. “There’s no end to this.”

Legislature Chairman Carl Albano also voiced his opposition. He said he agrees on banning the use of tobacco products in locations where it could adversely affect other people, but in this case he feels, “it’s like government taking control.”

“At what point do we stop?” he said. “There are so many issues we could address and tell somebody they’re not allowed to do it.”

Legislator Dini Lobue, who is also on the Health Committee, said the county should allow individual pharmacies to change their business model, like CVS did. More pharmacies should follow in CVS’s footsteps, LoBue said.

Commissioner of Health for the county, Dr. Alan Beals, said during the meeting that government should have a role when looking to help the safety and wellbeing of the county’s residents. He added passing this law would send a message and change the social norm about tobacco use.

Beals said, “It is not a normal product and we should not be saying it is by allowing it to be sold in a pharmacy that is there to protect your health.”

Though failing to pass the law the first time, there are two different legislators on the board now, Kevin Wright and Lou Tartaro, replacing Anthony DiCarlo and Rich Othmer, both whom voted against the ban in October.

The subject was tabled to next month’s committee meeting, with the hope of gaining more support for the proposed measure.

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