Ban on Saskatchewan pharmacies selling tobacco products pushed back to April 2011

Saskatchewan pharmacies will stop selling tobacco products as of April 1, 2011, said Health minister Don McMorris on Monday.

McMorris released the province’s tobacco reduction strategy as he opened a two-day symposium that brings together health officials and experts from across Saskatchewan. He later told reporters that the government is delaying the ban on pharmacy tobacco sales by several months.

“A lot of pharmacies have to change the design of the store and we’re giving the time to do that,” McMorris told reporters Monday at the Hilton Garden Inn.

“We had thought that we would be able to implement this by the first of January. That was tight for them. Not that (pharmacies) are opposed to the legislation, they just need time to make structural changes.”

The new law will also restrict large stores that have pharmacies in one area from selling cigarettes in another, meaning some big box stores might be required to set up a separate entrance to an area that sells tobacco.

The seven-page strategy outlines how the government plans to reduce tobacco use in Saskatchewan. McMorris said the province is focused on three principles: “Prevention, protection, cessation.”

The strategy targets youth, First Nations and Metis — groups that have higher-than-acceptable smoking rates, according to the province — with media campaigns and training for health officials.

But reducing tobacco use starts with early education, McMorris said.

“If you can prevent people from smoking when they’re 16, you don’t have to worry about them smoking when they’re 25,” he said.

The strategy also includes new legislation, some of which took effect earlier this year. The province banned smoking in cars with passengers under the age of 17 and also banned smoking on school grounds.

Saskatchewan has one of the highest rates of smoking in Canada, according to the province. About 25 per cent of residents smoke, and 14 per cent of youth between 12 and 19 smoke.

source: www.thestarphoenix.com

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