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Marin County Approves Ban On Tobacco Sales In Pharmacies In Some Areas

SAN RAFAEL (CBS SF) -- Marin County's Board of Supervisors approved an ordinance Tuesday banning the sale of tobacco products in pharmacies in the unincorporated area of the county.

The prohibition applies to pharmacies, drug stores and retail stores that contain a pharmacy. Pharmacies must begin complying with the ordinance on Oct. 1.

The ordinance states selling tobacco products in drug stores and pharmacies conveys tacit approval of the purchase of tobacco products and sends a "mixed message" to consumers who patronize the establishments for health care services.

According to the findings in the ordinance, 78 percent of independently owned pharmacies in California are tobacco free, but tobacco products are still sold by 94 percent of chain stores.

The Smoke Free Marin Coalition said 72.3 percent of California consumers don't think pharmacies should sell tobacco products, and 97 percent said they would shop at pharmacies as often or more often if they were tobacco free.

The Marin County Health and Human Services Department and Supervisor Susan Adams requested the board consider the ordinance.

The Marin County Employees Retirement Association, however has $8.6 million invested in tobacco companies.

Retirement Administrator Jeff Wickman said the companies include Imperial Tobacco, British-American Tobacco, Philip Morris, Eastern Tobacco and Japan Tobacco.

The $8.6 million investment is 0.44 percent of the pension fund's total investments of just under $2 billion, Wickman said.

Adams, who leaves office at the end of the year, said she has raised the issue about tobacco investments with members of the retirement association's board of directors and they have discussed it over the years.

"However, a majority of the retirement board has not been inclined to change the investment policy to date for a variety of reasons, and the county board of supervisors has no decision making authority on the retirement board's investment policy," Adams said.

© Copyright 2014 by CBS San Francisco and Bay City News Service. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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