Press Release

January 15, 2009

Health over Profits: A call on 3 provincial governments in western Canada to ban tobacco sales in pharmacies

Physicians for a Smoke-Free Canada today called on the Governments of British Columbia, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba to introduce legislation to abolish the sales of tobacco in pharmacies.

Physicians for a Smoke-Free Canada recently filed a complaint against pharmacists in each of the provinces at the respective Colleges, alleging unethical behavior on the side of pharmacists selling tobacco. The Colleges of Pharmacy in British Columbia, Saskatchewan and Manitoba have been reluctant to use their regulatory power to end tobacco sales, and have not responded to the complaints to date.

Dr. Charl Els, Alberta Director of Physicians for a Smoke-Free Canada said, “Displaying and selling cigarettes in pharmacies undermines the role of a pharmacist. Tobacco is no ordinary product: It is uniquely dangerous and pharmacies should play no part in profiting from death and disease”.

Pharmacy sales of tobacco products are also banned in Ontario, New Brunswick, Quebec, Nova Scotia, Nunavut, Newfoundland and Labrador, and Prince Edward Island, Alberta, as well as in the United Kingdom, France, Italy, and San Francisco.

“Pharmacists are health professionals, centrally involved in the community. Selling cigarettes is inconsistent with a pharmacist’s professional and ethical responsibilities”, says Dr. Dhali Dhaliwal, President and CEO of Cancer Care Manitoba. Dr. Dhaliwal, a cancer physician and Chair of MANTRA, added:“Cigarettes are the deadliest manufactured product in Canada, responsible for one in five deaths”.

There is no evidence of any adverse impact on pharmacy revenues in jurisdictions banning tobacco sales, Els said.

Legislation was introduced in Alberta, effective January 1, 2009, the first western province to join the majority of Canadian provinces in prohibiting tobacco sales in pharmacies. Tobacco smoking is the leading preventable cause of death and disease in Canada, costing the Canadian economy an estimated $18 billion per year.

Physicians for a Smoke-Free Canada and MANTRA support a call for legislation banning tobacco sales in Pharmacies.


For Information:


Dr. Charl Els, Physicians for a Smoke-Free Canada:
780 – 932 7217

Dr. Dhali Dhaliwal: President and CEO: Cancer Care Manitoba; Chair: Manitoba Tobacco Reduction Alliance (MANTRA):
204 - 787 2241

Backgrounder on Pharmacy Sales