Community pharmacists and tobacco in Great Britain: from selling cigarettes to smoking cessation services

Addiction. 2007 May;102(5):704-12. doi: 10.1111/j.1360-0443.2007.01790.x.


Aims: To illustrate the ways in which community pharmacists in Great Britain have been able to benefit from a close association with tobacco and smoking from its initial importation to the present time.

Design: An analysis of relevant texts and documents, together with brief transcripts from an oral history investigation of community pharmacy in Great Britain.

Setting: Community pharmacies in Great Britain during the 20th century.

Participants: Retired and practising community pharmacists with experience of the sale of tobacco products during the period.

Measurements: Oral testimony of retired and practising community pharmacists about the use and sale of tobacco products, and quantitative analysis of commercially available products designed to help people stop smoking during the period.

Findings: Community pharmacists have been involved continuously with the tobacco habit since its first introduction into Britain. During the course of the 20th century the emphasis shifted from the sale of tobacco products to the sale of medicines intended to help people to give up smoking. Smoking cessation initiatives continue to be an important part of the business of many pharmacies.

Conclusions: The paper illustrates the continuing tension that exists between pharmacy as business and pharmacy as profession. The sale of tobacco products and, more recently, products to help people give up smoking, has been a small but significant part of the business of many community pharmacists throughout the centuries.

Publication types

  • Historical Article
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Community Pharmacy Services / history*
  • Conflict of Interest
  • History, 19th Century
  • History, 20th Century
  • Humans
  • Professional Role
  • Smoking Cessation / history*
  • Tobacco Use Disorder / history*
  • United Kingdom