By Eric Crampton 09/09/2016


The folks over at the public health blog argue that access to nicotine for vaping should only be through pharmacies, or maybe through some licensed registered shops.

One thing is obviously missing from their tallying of the relative costs and benefits of pharmacy-only access. I’ll copy their table below.

A brief summary table

Attribute/issue Pharmacies Vape stores
Product array Likely to be more limited Likely to be more diverse and include the newest products
Product expertise Less likely to have personal experience and specific product expertise More likely to have personal experience and specific product expertise
Tobacco cessation expertise Staff likely to be trained in smoking cessation support Staff more likely to require formal cessation support training
Experience with regulations Accustomed to dealing with regulation of restricted substances Less experience in dealing with regulation of restricted substances and of advertising restrictions
Profit motivation Less incentive to sustain sales beyond cessation? More incentive to sustain sales beyond cessation?
Outlet numbers and locations More outlets covering greater proportion of NZ Fewer outlets, may have limited reach in some areas
Pricing May have lower sales volumes and be less price competitive (except perhaps if pharmacy chains were involved). May have higher sales volumes enabling lower prices – but potentially lower purchasing power than pharmacy chains.
Customer profile Likely to be more diverse Likely to be less diverse
Monitoring costs for regulators Low as pharmacies are already fairly regulated and should be highly motivated to sustain their reputations Potentially higher given the potential profit motivation (as per above)

Here’s a hint. Suppose you’re a parent and you need to get Bonjela for a teething kid. It’s 11.30 at night. Does it make a difference if it’s pharmacy-only?

There’s something pretty obvious missing here that reflects a lack of concern for the user’s perspective on things?

They also really fail to establish the case for having the things only in regulated outlets as compared to corner shops, with sales restricted to those 18+. Just because enforcement of 18+ isn’t perfect in tobacco shops is hardly reason to lock everything up in pharmacies..

Featured image credit: Flickr / Lindsay Fox