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Availability and range of tobacco products for sale in Massachusetts pharmacies


Objective New tobacco control policies have been introduced in Massachusetts which restrict tobacco product sales in pharmacies. The purpose of this investigation was to outline the scope of pharmacy involvement in the tobacco market by assessing the availability and range of tobacco products sold in Massachusetts pharmacies.

Methods Public listings of licenced pharmacies and tobacco retailers in Massachusetts were examined to determine the proportion of pharmacies licenced to sell tobacco, and the proportion of tobacco retailers possessing a pharmacy licence. Telephone interviews were conducted with a random sample (n=70) of pharmacies possessing a tobacco licence to assess the availability and range of tobacco products for sale. The availability of nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) products was assessed as a comparison.

Results The majority of pharmacies in Massachusetts possessed a tobacco licence (69%), and pharmacies made up 9% of licenced tobacco retailers. Among pharmacies surveyed that reported selling tobacco (90%), cigarettes were the most available tobacco product for sale (100%), followed by cigars (69%), little cigars/cigarillos (66%), moist snuff (53%), pipe tobacco (49%), roll-your-own tobacco (34%), snus (14%), dissolvable tobacco (11%) and electronic cigarettes (2%). Nearly all pharmacies selling tobacco offered the nicotine patch (100%), gum (100%) and lozenge (98%).

Conclusions Tobacco-free pharmacy policies would affect a majority of Massachusetts pharmacies and remove a variety of tobacco products from their store shelves. Further, nearly one in ten tobacco retailers would be eliminated by prohibiting tobacco sales in Massachusetts pharmacies statewide.

  • Non-cigarette tobacco products
  • Public policy
  • Surveillance and monitoring

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