Background: Pharmacy-based tobacco sales are a rapidly increasing segment of the U.S. retail tobacco market. Growing evidence links easy access to tobacco retail outlets such as pharmacies to increased tobacco use. This mixed-mode survey was the first to employ a nationally representative sample of consumers (n = 3057) to explore their opinions on sale of tobacco products in pharmacies and grocery stores.
Results: The majority reported that sale of tobacco products should be either 'allowed if products hidden from view' (29.9%, 25.6%) or 'not allowed at all' (24.0%, 31.3%) in grocery stores and pharmacies, respectively. Significantly fewer smokers, compared to non-smokers, reported agreement on point-of-sale restrictions on sales of tobacco products (grocery stores: 27.1% vs. 59.6%, p < .01; pharmacy: 32.8% vs. 62.0%, p < .01). Opinions also varied significantly by demographic characteristics and factors such as presence of a child in the household and urban/rural location of residence.
Conclusions: Overall, a majority of consumers surveyed either supported banning sales of tobacco in grocery stores and pharmacies or allowing sales only if the products are hidden from direct view. Both policy changes would represent a departure from the status quo. Consistent with the views of practicing pharmacists and professional pharmacy organizations, consumers are also largely supportive of more restrictive policies.