Tobacco sales will be banned at Hollister pharmacies after the city council on June 15 voted 4-1, with Raymond Friend opposed, to approve an ordinance amendment that will halt the issuance or re-issuance of tobacco retail licenses.
The council previously heard from San Benito County Public Health Officer Dr. Anju Goel, M.D., who advocated for a ban on the sale of tobacco products, which she said will provide health benefits that will significantly outweigh the loss of revenue to pharmacies.Hollister City Manager William Avera said that since tobacco sales licenses are typically applied for in November and issued in January, local pharmacies will have six to seven months to remove tobacco products from their shelves.
The ordinance details legislative findings that will be used to advocate for the tobacco sales ban, including a 2012 study that found that 1 out of 6 adults (18 percent) in San Benito County smoke, compared to 15 percent in the state of California as a whole. "Children are particularly influenced by clues suggesting that smoking is acceptable," the report says, referencing sales of tobacco in retail establishments. "By selling tobacco products, pharmacies reinforce social perceptions of smoking, convey tacit approval of tobacco use, and send a message that it is not so dangerous to smoke."
The report notes that 78 percent of independently-owned pharmacies in the state have become tobacco free, though tobacco products are still sold in 94 percent of chain drug stores. Of the seven pharmacies in San Benito County, three do not sell tobacco and one of the four that does is reviewing that policy at the corporate level.
Hollister resident Michael Nix spoke out against the ban on tobacco sales during the public comment period, saying that while he agreed that tobacco use is not beneficial to health and well being, he is "worried about (the ordinance) setting a precedence" that could result in the ban on other retail products in the future. "This council feels that it is better suited to make personal choice than its citizens," Nix said, noting that he believed pressure on pharmacies from consumers would be a better way to encourage the cessation of tobacco sales.
Friend made no comments before his vote against the ordinance.
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