Physicians for a Smoke-Free Canada

Physicians for a Smoke-Free Canada

November 02, 2005 10:48 ET

Putting Profits ahead of Patient Care

Physicians file complaint with Alberta College of Pharmacists over tobacco sales in pharmacies. Attention: Health/Medical Editor, News Editor EDMONTON, ALBERTA--(CCNMatthews - Nov. 2, 2005) - Physicians for a Smoke-Free Canada (PSC) has filed an official complaint with the Alberta College of Pharmacists against the sale of tobacco products in this province's pharmacies.

The Alberta College of Pharmacists has resisted previous appeals by their own members and by other health agencies to either implement a ban on tobacco sales in pharmacies, or request the province to do so through legislation. "By filing an official complaint, we hope to trigger the College into meeting its responsibilities under the Pharmaceutical Professional Act to set ethical standards for pharmacists and protect the public interest," said Physicians for a Smoke-Free Canada's regional director, Charl Els. "Tobacco is the leading avoidable cause of disease and premature death in Alberta, and should not be sold in agencies which have a responsibility to health, like pharmacies."

As a psychiatrist, Dr. Els finds the sale of tobacco products hinders his patients' ability to quit. "Persons with mental illness are at increased risk of smoking, and may be impacted more severely by these tobacco sales practices", Dr. Charl Els, PSC's Alberta Director said. "Patients have complained that they find it difficult to resist buying cigarettes in pharmacies. When they enter pharmacies to buy smoking cessation products, they are faced with a 'powerwall' of tobacco products".

At least six other provinces have already passed legislation banning the sales of tobacco from pharmacies, and in at least one province, Quebec, the College used its powers to regulate the profession to trigger legal change. Despite Albertan pharmacists' overwhelming support for outlawing tobacco sales in pharmacies, a call by the Alberta College of Pharmacists for legislation has not been forthcoming.

"We fear that the College of Pharmacists is listening to the concerns of the 'big business' chain pharmacies and not to the concerns of their own members, or the needs of the public," said Dr. Els.

As numerous pharmacies are now owned by non-pharmacists, the decision to sell tobacco in a pharmacy may no longer lie in the hands of the pharmacist. "This places pharmacists in the precarious position of potentially violating their Professional Code of Conduct by offering tobacco products for sale", Els added. "The practice of sales from pharmacies, albeit legal, is tarnishing the reputation of the profession and sends a mixed and harmful message to the public", he added.

"Pharmacies should not put financial gain ahead of public health", Els concluded. PSC is recommending to the Alberta College of Pharmacists that it call on the Alberta Government to immediately bring forth legislation to ban the sales of tobacco from all pharmacies in Alberta.
/For further information:
Dr. Charl Els, MBChB, FCPsych[SA], MMedPsych – Alberta Director
(780)407-1150 or (780)908-2475

Cynthia Callard, Executive Director
(613) 233-4878

Contact Information

  • Cynthia Callard, Executive Director, Physicians for a Smoke-Free Canada
    Primary Phone: 613-233-4878
    Secondary Phone: 613-850-5594