By Carol McLeod

HALIFAX–Pharmacies in Nova Scotia no longer sell tobacco. A ban went into effect January 1, making it the fourth province in Canada to legislate tobacco out of drugstores.

The provincial government turned down a request by the Pharmacy Association of Nova Scotia (PANS) to delay the move for another six months.

“We had a slim hope they might grant the extension,” says PANS executive director Pat King. “But government’s attitude was that we had been treated fairly.” The ban was announced in May, 1999.

Under the legislation, retailers with a pharmacy on site can only sell tobacco in a separate shop. Consumers must leave the store completely and go to a self-contained tobacco outlet that is not accessible directly from the store.

Both PANS and the Nova Scotia Pharmaceutical Society (NSPS) believe that tobacco sales should be prohibited everywhere, not just in pharmacies. But while NSPS supported the removal of tobacco from drugstores, PANS did not.

About 85% of the province’s 230 community pharmacies sold tobacco prior to the ban, with tobacco revenue accounting for between 8% and 10% of total sales.

Nova Scotia joins Ontario, Quebec, and New Brunswick in prohibiting tobacco sales in pharmacies. In British Columbia, new pharmacies opening as of this month will not be permitted to sell tobacco products; tobacco will be removed from all other B.C. drugstores in 2002.