June 19, 2015 -- marks the first anniversary of what Airspace commonly refers to as "THE LETTER".
One year ago today, the Presidents/CEOs/GMs of six major Lower Mainland companies sent an extremely nasty, bullying and threatening letter (click here to see it) to the College of Pharmacists of British Columbia, in response to the College's efforts to get tobacco out of pharmacies in B.C. "THE TOBACCO SIX" -- Clint Mahlman (London Drugs), Frank Scorpiniti (Rexall), Michael Lund (The Medicine Shoppe), Chuck Mulvenna (Safeway), Darrell Jones (Overwaitea/Save On Foods) and Jim Dores (Thrifty) -- are, clearly, much more interested in private wealth than public health.
Interestingly, The Medicine Shoppe does NOT sell any tobacco products (smoking cessation products, yes...cigarettes, chewing tobacco, etc., no). Many efforts to contact Michael Lund/The Medicine Shoppe/McKesson Canada were unsuccessful in getting an answer to the obvious question: Why would The Medicine Shoppe so vocally support the sale of tobacco from pharmacies when it does not sell tobacco itself?
One educated guess is that perhaps The Medicine Shoppe subscribes to the dreaded "slippery slope" theory; tobacco today...pop, chips and chocolate bars tomorrow. But that's kind of bizarre too, given the fact that during a recent visit to a Medicine Shoppe, I did not see any pop, chips and chocolate bars?!?
In any case, thanks at least in part to THE TOBACCO SIX, B.C. -- once a proud national/world leader in terms of tobacco control -- continues to be the only province/territory in Canada that still allows the sale of tobacco from pharmacies. The rest of the 'credit' for that sad state of affairs goes to the extremely tobacco-friendly B.C. Liberals; most notably, Premier Christy Clark and Health Minister Terry Lake.
So, what has happened over the past year? Well, in addition to everything you'll find elsewhere on this site about this matter (including the extremely offensive letter), I raised the issue with my MLA, Bruce Ralston who, a few weeks later, raised the issue with Terry Lake in the Legislature. I was present on that occasion...and Lake continues to stubbornly maintain his twisted "B.C. has it right... and the other 12 provinces/territories have it all wrong" position.
And we are still waiting for a full retraction of THE LETTER from the TOBACCO SIX, along with a public apology from them to the College of Pharmacists of B.C. and, even more importantly, the individual members of the Board of the COPBC at the time the letter was written.
As stated elsewhere, this is "low-hanging fruit". Some people suggest that it's not a big deal...or that people will simply get their cigarettes elsewhere. Well, it is a big deal when a business in which health care professionals work sells the leading -- and most easily and cheaply preventable -- cause of disease, disability and premature death on the planet! And the less readily available tobacco products are, the fewer people will smoke (Airspace has long maintained the position that as long as tobacco products are available, they should be sold exclusively from government liquor stores).
No matter how you describe the issue of tobacco in pharmacies -- "low hanging fruit", "not a big deal", etc. -- it should be a quick and easy fix. And, of course, the question must be asked: As long as Health Minister Terry Lake refuses to catch up with the rest of the country on this 'relatively minor issue', why would he bother addressing any 'more serious' tobacco control issues?
All of that said, the fight continues; we will NOT back down!
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