Characterization of Public Opinion on the Ban of Tobacco Sales in San Francisco Pharmacies

Professor of Clinical Pharmacy

The purpose of this project was to characterize the San Francisco public’s perceptions and opinions about the ban of tobacco sales in pharmacies. On October 1, 2008, the City and County of San Francisco amended an ordinance of the San Francisco Health Code, prohibiting the sale of tobacco products in San Francisco pharmacies. “Big Box” stores (such as Costco) and grocery stores (such as Safeway) were not included in the ban. Opponents expressed concern that such a ban would have a negative financial impact on the pharmacies in question, which in San Francisco are primarily Walgreens. Most independent pharmacies at the time already did not sell tobacco products. Reducing customer shopping was another concern raised. Proponents of this ban support the notion that a pharmacy, a place where health care is rendered, should not sell products known to harm (i.e., cause health problems and even death). We surveyed San Francisco residents on their opinions of the ban of selling tobacco products in community pharmacies. A 22-item survey was administered to residents on city sidewalks near chain pharmacies and captured whether the public is in support of the tobacco ban; how the ban has influenced consumer shopping behavior at chain pharmacies; and how the ban has influenced smoking behavior.