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Advocacy and Activism

Past Advocacy and Activism Efforts


California Board of Pharmacy supports proposal to eliminate tobacco products from California pharmacies


On June 18, 2014 Pharmacists Planning Services, Inc (PPSI) appeared before the California Board of Pharmacy to present a proposal to eliminate tobacco products from all California pharmacies.  The board gave a resolution to support the proposal, and the licensing committee voted in favor of the resolution (vote tally: 5-0). On July 30th 2014, the full board will vote on the resolution for final approval.


Click here for the meeting minutes.

View a summary of the meeting here


Update: On July 20, 2014, the Dean of the College of Pharmacy at Touro University wrote a letter to California State Board of Pharmacy Licensing Committee encouraging its support for the elimination of tobacco products in California pharmacies.


Click here for the letter. 


Op-Ed: The Ties That Bind


April 10 2014: In an op-ed that appeared in The New York Times, Peter Bach comments on the relationship between Walgreens and The American Cancer Society. 


Click here to read more


$43 Billion in Medicare and Medicaid funds paid to tobacco retailers in 2013


April 3, 2014: In an op-ed that appeared in the blog Drug Channels, Tobacco Free Rx board members Dr. Vinayak Jha, and Dr. Alan Blum call attention to the fact that many health groups have not succeeded in promoting tobacco free pharmacies. The authors estimate that $43 billion in Medicare and Medicaid funds were paid to tobacco retailers in 2013. Dr. Jha and Dr. Blum note, “Corporations that choose to sell tobacco products should no longer be granted licenses to dispense medications or provide other health care services.”


Click here for the op-ed

Attorneys General of 28 states and territories write to CEOs of chain pharmacy retailers asking them to stop selling tobacco products

March 17, 2014: The Attorneys General of 28 states have written to the CEOs of Wal-Mart, Walgreens, Rite-Aid, Safeway, and Kroger asking them to stop selling tobacco products in their stores. They also commended CVS for its decision to stop selling tobacco.


Click here for the press release 


Click the links  for the letters sent to KrogerRite-AidSafewayWalgreens, and Wal-Mart, as well as the letter commending CVS for its actions.


Blowing Smoke: The Lost Legacy of the Surgeon General's Report


Dr. Alan Blum, Board member of Tobacco Free Rx, and Director of The University of Alabama Center for the Study of Tobacco and Society, recently produced the film "Blowing Smoke". Following the 50th Anniversary of the 1964 Surgeon General's Report on Smoking and Health, the film highlights missed oppertunities to reduce cigarette demands. It also demonstrates, as Blum states, "the fear, foot-dragging, and squandering of funds on the part of public health agencies, universities, and organized medicine alike in ending the smoking pandemic."


Click here to view the film.


Leading Medical and Public Health Organizations urge tobacco retailers to follow CVS

February 26, 2014: Leading Medical and Public Health organizations published an open letter urging pharmacy tobacco retailers to follow CVS in its decision to end tobacco sales. Click here to view the letter


Tobacco Free Rx Calls on Walgreens and Rite Aid To Join CVS in Ending Tobacco Sales in Pharmacies February 5, 2014: In response to the announcement by CVS today that it will be ending tobacco sales in all stores/pharmacies by October 1st, Tobacco Free Rx called on Walgreens and Rite Aid to follow suit. Pharmacy tobacco sales not only contribute to the social acceptability of tobacco use, but also contradict their ability to claim they are a part of health care teams. Click here for the press release



Dean of UCSF School of Pharmacy shows support for ending pharmacy tobacco sales in Marin County, CA 

January 10, 2014: B. Joseph Guglielmo, Dean of UCSF School of Pharmacy, recently wrote a letter to Jennie Cook, Coalition Chair of the Smoke-Free Marin Coalition. Dean Guglielmo's letter expresses UCSF School of Pharmacy's support of efforts to end pharmacy tobacco sales in Marin County. The coalition's proposed ordinance is in agreement with the UCSF School of Pharmacy policy on tobacco. To read the full letter, click here.


New England Journal of Medicine Letter to the Editor

December 5, 2013: Dr. Vinayak Jha, and Dr. Alan Blum published a letter to the editor in the New England Journal of Medicine commenting on a recent article that highlighted CVS’s efforts to reduce inappropriate prescribing of narcotics. Dr. Jha and Dr. Blum note that despite these reported efforts, CVS continues to sell cigarettes; the leading preventable cause of death in the United States. Click here to view the letter. 

TOBACCO-FREE Rx CALLS for the American Heart Association to Cut Ties with Walgreens 

The American Heart Association and Million Hearts Organization collaborate with Walgreens to sponsor heart healthy programs.   Tobacco Free RX has asked the American Heart Association to stop working with Walgreens, until they stop selling tobacco products.

 Read the letter and response below.

Letter to the American Heart Association from Tobacco Free Rx​

Press Release: May 31, 2012

Rite Aid Shareholders ask Board to submit report on response to pressure to halt tobacco sales

In February 2009, Rite Aid shareholders submitted a proposal asking the Board to report how the company was responding to increasing public  pressure to stop tobacco sales.


The pdf below contains a series of letters between the Board and shareholders.


Series of Letters between Rite Aid Board and Shareholders.

Your Cancer and Drug Store

Alan Blum, MD gives Dr. Heather Hoffmann a tour of "Your Drug Store and Cancer Center" at the 2009 National Conference on Tobacco or Health.

Your Cancer and Drug Store 

Alan Blum, MD provides a satirical look at the absurdity that exists within the drug store and pharmacy chains, that sell cigarettes under the same roof where medical prescriptions, and health products are sold. These stores claim to be partners in health and well being, but instead chose to sell and actively promote tobacco products, showing a glaring irony that money comes before even their own stated mission.

Tell Pharmacies to Stop Selling Tobacco Products

Pharmacies are supposed to be dedicated to protecting and promoting the health of their customers.  Yet major chains like Walgreens, CVS and Rite Aid sell cigarettes and other tobacco products, often placing these goods right next to tobacco cessation aids like nicotine gums and patches.  No pharmacy could, in good faith, possibly claim that they are selling these products to protect and promote their patrons' health.  Read the response letter from Activist Terry  Gerace.

or sign a petition using the links below.

Response from Walgreens to  Activist Terry Gerace, PHD

 Tobacco Free Pharmacy Guidesouble click me.

If you are working on a tobacco free pharmacy campaign or policy, and would like help, check out the resources below.


Action Guide by CounterTobacco.Org


This  action guide provides recommendations to guide  advocates in developing and enacting policies to prohibit pharmacy tobacco sales. 


Click here to access the guide


A Guide to Tobacco Free Pharmacies.  
This pamphlet includes a case study and user's guide for planning and implementing a tobacco free pharmacy campaign.

A Guide to Tobacco Free Pharmacies

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