Wayne County may snuff pharmacy tobacco sales

In the windows of some Rite Aid Pharmacy outlets, you’ll see “wellness images,” such as a woman eating an apple and another in meditation.

But as you walk into the store, you’ll see a wall of cigarettes behind the checkout counter, notes Ryan Mulhern, public health educator for Wayne County.

That, said Mulhern, conflicts with the image Rite Aid and other major pharmacies, such as Walgreens, are presenting to customers.

“They’re billing themselves as wellness centers,” said Mulhern “For tobacco to be sold at these places, it sends the wrong message.”

He explained that the predominance of tobacco products in pharmacies could give the more easily impressionable the idea that tobacco might not be so dangerous.

But it is. The American Cancer Society said smoking accounts for about 30 percent of all cancer deaths in the United States, including about 80 percent of all lung cancer deaths. It can also cause other cancers as well and heightens the risk of heart disease.

About one in four Wayne County residents over 18 are classified as smokers (24.5 percent), using the latest state health department statistics from 2014. That’s one of the highest rates in the region.

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