Assemblywoman Galef’s “Tobacco Free Pharmacies Act” Passed in 2020-21 State Budget

Legislation bans the sale of tobacco and nicotine products in New York State pharmacies

A bill introduced by Assemblywoman Galef banning the sale of cigarettes, e-cigarettes, and vaping products in New York pharmacies was passed in the 2020-2021 State budget. Enacting this law in the budget, based on the Galef/Carlucci bill A.398/S592, signals the state’s commitment to decreasing preventable respiratory illnesses, especially in light of the growing COVID-19 pandemic.

Supporters of the law maintain that pharmacies are in the business of selling products meant to improve one’s health. It is where people go to pick up important and often times lifesaving medications. To sell cigarettes and vape products would contradict a pharmacy’s mission of keeping its customers healthy. Many pharmacies have already implemented this policy independently. Most notably, CVS has been tobacco-free by choice since 2014.

Assemblywoman Galef said, “This law ensures that pharmacies remain a space where people buy products and pick up prescriptions that make them healthier. Selling cigarettes and vape products undermines the hard work of pharmacists and doctors who are trying to keep New Yorkers healthy.”

Based on data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), smoking is the leading cause of preventable death. The risks of smoking are well known: smokers have a much higher likelihood of developing cancer, diabetes, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and heart disease. This new law is particularly important as New York is in the midst of fighting against the deadly novel coronavirus. There has been evidence to show that smokers are at increased risk of more severe illness or death from COVID-19.

This bill was part of a package of reforms in the budget to curb tobacco and nicotine use. Other measures include:

  • Banning public advertisement of tobacco and vapor products near schools;
  • Prohibits the sale of flavored e-cigarettes and vape products unless given FDA pre-market approval;
  • Restricts the delivery of e-liquid products only to NYS-licensed vapor retailers;
  • Requires vape manufactures to disclose information about ingredients, by-products, and contaminants in vapor products to the NYS Department of Health; and
  • Increases penalties for illegally selling tobacco products to minors.

Assemblywoman Galef said, “These new regulations are critical if we are going to make a meaningful impact on the rate of preventable smoking-related disease in our state and make smoking less appealing to our students. I will continue to push for common-sense tobacco and vapor regulation that keep New Yorkers healthy.”