Availability of Tobacco and Alcohol Products in Los Angeles Community Pharmacies
The availability of tobacco and alcohol products in community pharmacies contradicts the pharmacists’ Code of Ethics and presents challenges for a profession that is overwhelmingly not in favor of the sale of these products in its practice settings. The primary aim of this study was to estimate the proportion of pharmacies that sell tobacco products and/or alcoholic beverages and to characterize promotion of these products. The proportion of pharmacies that sell non-prescription nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) products as aids to smoking cessation also was estimated. Among 250 randomly-selected community pharmacies in Los Angeles, 32.8% sold cigarettes, and 26.0% sold alcohol products. Cigarettes were more likely to be available in traditional chain pharmacies and grocery stores than in independently-owned pharmacies (100% versus 10.8%; P < 0.001), and traditional chain drug stores and grocery stores were more likely to sell alcoholic beverages than were independently-owned pharmacies (87.5% vs. 5.4%; P < 0.001). Thirty-four (41.5%) of the 82 pharmacies that sold cigarettes and 47 (72.3%) of the 65 pharmacies that sold alcohol also displayed promotional materials for these products. NRT products were merchandised by 58% of pharmacies. Results of this study suggest that when given a choice, pharmacists choose not to sell tobacco or alcohol products.