Old County Hall and Erie County Legislature building. October 9, 2018 (WBEN Photo/Mike Baggerman)

Public Health Protection Act Ready for Vote

Legislation would stop pharmacies from selling tobacco products

November 29, 2018 - 11:22 pm

BUFFALO (WBEN) - A public hearing commenced at the Erie County Legislature last night to discuss The Public Health Protection Act of 2018. In essence, the law would prevent retail pharmacies from also selling tobacco-related products, and it also makes it illegal to smoke with children in the car.

Legislator Peter Savage says this law is overdue, simply based on the principle.

"For a few years, we've heard from advocates in the health industry of the ongoing concern about healthcare facilities such as pharmacies, with so many cigarettes being sold in close proximity, that it's really not sending the right message," he said. "A healthcare facility should be focused on health and not selling the leading cause of cancer and heart disease."

Savage says that the national trends show that many pharmacies have already steered away from selling tobacco products.

"Yes, it will eliminate the products from those facilities, but it will send the right message, but also, when you think about children, and you think about how tobacco products have been marketed by big tobacco to children for decades...it does not send the right message."

Legislator John Mills echoed Savage's sentiments, saying this bill is another step in the right direction.

"First of all, it's a long time coming," he said. "I think people cringe when they see an automobile going down the road filled with toxic cigarette smoke and a couple of young children in their carseats in the back. It's definitely a health risk to those children."

However, not everyone at the meeting shared the same enthusiasm for the bill as the legislators. In fact, Anthony Kunz attended the meeting, and he got up to speak out against it. 

"I think it's just another needless and burdensome regulation," he said. "People who want to buy cigarettes are going to buy cigarettes, they'll just have to get them some place else...If you're going to go after cigarettes, what about other things that are dangerous habits that people indulge in like chocolate, refined sugar, fats, fatty foods, nitrates in meats...are you going to forbid the sale of those?"

Regardless of how some members of the public may feel, Kunz being the only one who spoke out at the meeting, Mills says the legislation will now be sent to the full legislature for a vote.  

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