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    Pharmacists support e-cigarette warnings

    Many pharmacists—chain and independent alike—support FDA’s recent warning letters to drug stores, smoke shops, and other retailers over selling e-cigarettes, hookah tobacco, and cigars to minors.

    Matthew BalishFDA issued warning letters to 55 retailers in mid-September—a month after the agency began to enforce new federal regulations that made it illegal to sell e-cigarettes, cigars, hookah tobacco, and other newly-regulated tobacco products to anyone under age 18 in person or online. Retailers are required to check the photo IDs of anyone under age 27.

    Three Walgreens stores in three different states, one Rite Aid store in Richland, Wash., and a Safeway store in Des Moines, Wash., were among the retailers sent warning letters in the sweeping enforcement action. Other stores that were issued warning letters include 7-Eleven, Circle K, Family Dollar, and a host of vaping/ e-cig shops.

    “It seems preposterous that we would sell tobacco-like products to a minor,” said Brandy Rios, pharmacy clinical services manager for Walmart in Corpus Christi, Texas. “We don’t know the long-term effects, and minors aren’t mature enough to make these decisions on their own. It is right for the government to step up and say, ‘For your safety, we will stop you before you are mature enough to make these decisions’.”

    Matthew Balish, staff pharmacist at Pemberton Pharmacy in Salisbury, Md., agrees with FDA’s rule prohibiting the sale of tobacco used in Electronic Nicotine Delivery Systems (ENDS) to minors. “Nicotine in any delivery system is addictive, and preventing minors from using this is an important health goal,” Balish said.

    Like most independent community pharmacies and chains such as CVS, Pemberton does not sell tobacco products.

    Christine Blank
    Contributing Editor Christine Blank is a freelance writer based in Florida.

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