Albany County Executive Signs Legislation Banning Tobacco Sales in Pharmacies

Very good news in Albany County today!

Albany County Executive Daniel P. McCoy today signed Local Law A, which bans the sale of tobacco and other nicotine products in pharmacies and stores containing pharmacies throughout Albany County.

County Executive McCoy held a public hearing on the measure after the bill was adopted by the Albany County Legislature on May 14 where numerous advocates and community members from around the county spoke in favor of the ban, citing the wide-ranging health benefits the measure would have on residents.

“This is an important piece of legislation that will improve the health and the lives of Albany County residents,” said County Executive McCoy.

McCoy also noted this measure improves upon the previous version of the bill, which lacked any enforcement mechanisms for the ban and would have been ineffective in its intent, by including a $500 per day fine for any establishment in violation.

“In signing this bill, I am urging the legislature to immediately amend defects in the legislation which also prohibit the sale of smoking cessation devices and implements of igniting tobacco products, namely lighters and matches,” continued McCoy. “It appears these prohibitions were done in error through the use of certain definitions of Tobacco Products, and Tobacco Components or Accessories. It is hard to imagine that the Legislature intended to prohibit the sale of things like nicotine patches at the exact stores where one would expect to find such devices. Similarly, as written, the law prohibits the sale of matches at the same stores that sell birthday candles.”

“The American Heart Association applauds County Executive McCoy for continuing to put the health of county residents first by signing Local Law A,” said Dan Moran, Chair of the New York State Advocacy Committee of the American Heart Association and President of Next-Act. “It never made sense to sell deadly tobacco products in pharmacies, places that are about health. The County Executive is building on the legacy the County began when he approved Tobacco 21, raising the legal minimum sales age for tobacco products to 21. Albany County is a place where making the healthy choice is easy to do.”

“Tobacco and pharmacies simply don’t mix. Albany County residents visit pharmacies for medications and advice that will improve their health, including quitting smoking. It makes it more difficult for a smoker to quit, when he or she is at a pharmacy to get a prescription and they see tobacco being sold,” said Julie Hart, American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network New York government relations director.  “We would like to thank Albany County Executive McCoy for standing up to big tobacco and putting the health of residents first.”

“We applaud County Executive McCoy and the Albany County Legislature for making pharmacies tobacco free in Albany County.  Removing tobacco products from locations where patients are going for their healthcare makes sense and is a public health victory.” said Michael Seilback, National Assistant Vice President of State Public Policy for the American Lung Association.

“I applaud the county executive for signing into law this important public health measure. Tobacco-free pharmacies will reduce youth access to all tobacco products including electronics cigarettes and it will help smokers quit.” said Judy Rightmyer, Director of the Capital District’s Tobacco-Free Communities.

Albany County has the highest percentage of pharmacies selling tobacco products of any county throughout the state, despite CVS already banning their sale and no independent pharmacies in Albany County currently selling them.

The approval of this legislation comes as other localities from across the state and country have implemented similar measures, including New York City and Rockland County.