Some lung patients buy cigarettes along with meds at pharmacies: study: medlineplus

MONDAY, Oct. 20, 2014 (HealthDay News) While picking up a prescription for cholesterol lowering medication, about one in 20 people with conditions such as asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) or high blood pressure will also purchase cigarettes, a new study finds.

Six percent of people with asthma or COPD, and about 5 percent of people with high blood pressure or those picking up oral contraceptive bought cigarettes, the researchers found.

“While smoking itself can cause many health problems, it can worsen certain conditions and have other effects on medications,” said lead researcher Joshua Gagne, an assistant professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School in Boston.

For example, smoking can worsen respiratory conditions and can increase blood pressure, the researchers wrote. Smoking can also increase the risk of heart attack and stroke in oral contraceptives users, Gagne said.

In February, the pharmacy chain CVS announced that it would no longer sell tobacco products at its stores beginning in October 2014. CVS said it was making the move because selling tobacco products isn’t in keeping with a pharmacy’s mission of helping to protect people’s health. The company said it was the first national pharmacy chain to halt the sale of tobacco products.

“Ending the sale of cigarettes and tobacco products at CVS/pharmacy is the right thing for us to do for our customers and our company to help people on their path to better health,” Larry Merlo, president and CEO of CVS Caremark, said in a news release. “Put simply, the sale of tobacco products is inconsistent with our purpose.”

For the study, Gagne and his colleagues looked at data from CVS on more than 361,000 customers who filled prescriptions for statins (cholesterol lowering drugs) between January 2011 and June 2012. The researchers linked this data to all purchases at CVS stores.

The study found that people who purchased cigarettes while picking up a prescription made twice as many visits to the store compared to those who didn’t buy cigarettes.

Of course, it’s still easy for smokers to buy their cigarettes elsewhere, Gagne said. However, pharmacists can play an important role in helping patients stop smoking, he said.

“Pharmacists are trained in smoking cessation counseling and are often among the most accessible and most frequently visited health care professionals. Rather than providing an opportunity to promote smoking, pharmacy visits should represent an opportunity to help patients quit,” Gagne said.

Dr. Norman Edelman, senior scientific advisor at the American Lung Association, said, “Making the purchase of cigarettes easy for those most at risk from smoking is certainly not good public health practice.

“It would seem obvious that stores which are selling ‘health’ have a responsibility to avoid selling products which lead to death and disability,” he said.

The American Lung Association has entered a partnership with CVS to combat lung cancer, which is primarily caused by smoking, Edelman said. “We applaud their decision to discontinue selling cigarettes and hope other drug outlets will do the same,” he said.

When CVS announced its decision, its largest competitor, Walgreens, said that they planned to continue selling tobacco products.

According to published reports, Walgreens said in a statement that since tobacco sales in pharmacies make up only 4 percent of total tobacco sales, there would be “little to no significant impact” on smoking if they stopped selling tobacco.

The company noted that it sells a variety of products to help people quit smoking.

“We believe that if the goal is to truly reduce tobacco use in America, then the most effective thing retail pharmacies can do is address the root causes and help smokers quit,” Walgreens spokesman Jim Cohn said in the statement.

The new study was published Oct. 20 online in JAMA Internal Medicine.

Opening hours of tobacco shops selling cigarettes on las ramblas?

A The La Rambla is one of the most famous places for tourists in Barcelona to visit. That means that it is one of the places where you will find most shops open. In general, the opening hours for shops in Barcelona may vary a little. They typically open at 09 00 or 10 00 and close at 20 30 or 21 00. Tobacco shops follow the same rules as normal shops.

However for kiosks on Las Ramblas, the opening hours vary more than for shops in other areas of the city. In general, many of the newspaper kiosks that also sell cigarettes at the Ramblas open almost every day of the year. Some even open 24 hours a day every day. Though, this depends on the general situation, as several of the kiosk owners told me. They may change their opening hours during the months when there are fewer tourists visiting the city. The hours mentioned are valid for the kiosks and also for many of the souvenirs shops.

In general, during the peak season the newspaper kiosks actually on La Rambla usually open until late and even on Sundays. Other shops also on La Rambla follow the same rules e.g. you will find pharmacies that open 24 hours a day or a book shop that opens on Sundays during the morning from 08 00 14 00.

If you are looking to buy cigarettes in bulk then it is recommended you buy them from a specialist Tabac shop as opposed to a newspaper kiosk because the prices are likely to be much more competitive.