We quit! Pharmacy franchise leader talks about decision to go tobacco free


John Fiacco

Vice President
Medicine Shoppe International

Smoking remains the leading cause of preventable death worldwide, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

In an effort to help curb these trends, nearly all Medicine Shoppe and Medicap Pharmacy franchises recently committed to not sell tobacco and tobacco-related products. We sat down with John Fiacco, vice president of Medicine Shoppe International, Inc., to hear his insight on why the pharmacy franchise took this important step, and to discuss where he sees the Medicine Shoppe and Medicap Pharmacy franchises focusing in the future.

Q:  You have more than 500 franchises in the Medicine Shoppe and Medicap Pharmacy franchise system. Was it a challenge to get owners to agree to go tobacco-free?

A: Actually, a large portion of our franchises have always been tobacco-free. So making this policy official was a natural next step. Our franchise owners are focused on personalized patient care – and they want to encourage patients to make decisions that promote a healthy lifestyle. Being a tobacco-free pharmacy is just part of that commitment to their communities. We had an overwhelmingly positive response from our franchise system when we asked for their input on this policy.

Q: What impact do the franchise owners expect to have on their communities by implementing this policy?

A: Each Medicine Shoppe and Medicap Pharmacy franchise is owned by a neighbor in the community it serves. Medicine Shoppe and Medicap franchise owners, pharmacists and staffs all know the health challenges their customers face, and they strive to provide services to address them. It’s no secret that smoking is still the leading cause of preventable death worldwide, and that it kills more than 480,000 Americans each year. And we see this as a problem we can take a stance on helping to solve. Not selling tobacco and tobacco-related products in our communities will hopefully help discourage use of those products.

Q: So, why is now the time for most Medicine Shoppe and Medicap Pharmacy locations to go tobacco-free?

A: Most of Medicine Shoppe and Medicap locations have long been smoke-free. But when a major managed care organization began to assess additional co-pays on patients for using pharmacies that aren’t tobacco-free, that move made it all the more important for us to make a more formalized commitment to being tobacco-free. 

Q: This is a significant step toward tobacco-free communities; what future plans do Medicine Shoppe and Medicap Pharmacy franchises have to make a healthy impact in their local communities?

A: Our Medicine Shoppe and Medicap Pharmacy franchisees pride themselves on being a community healthcare destination. Most of them aren’t competing with the local grocery or gift store – they’re focused on providing health products and services that help them improve the health of their communities.  And as retailers, our stores feel they have a responsibility to play a role in limiting access to tobacco and tobacco-related products – and, ultimately, in helping to prevent the diseases and health problems those products can cause. In fact, many Medicine Shoppe and Medicap Pharmacy locations sell cessation aids such as nicotine replacement gum and nicotine patches, and many offer comprehensive smoking-cessation education programs. Some even partner with local smoking-cessation programs to fill prescriptions for medications that help patients successfully quit smoking.  

Q: What other ways do Medicine Shoppe and Medicap Pharmacy franchises try to improve the health of their communities?

A: Well, each store is different because they offer health care services that reflect the unique needs of their communities. To give you an idea, some franchises offer heart health programs that help patients monitor and chart their health goals, including recommendations for healthy eating and online personalized learning opportunities. Some have diabetes services that include counseling and diabetes management training. Another invaluable offering that many patients appreciate is our Medication Therapy Management (MTM) services to help ensure patients have a thorough understanding of how, when and why they should take their medication. Other Medicine Shoppe and Medicap pharmacies are helping to improve the health of their community by providing immunizations, screening, evaluations and education as part of the high-quality care that customers have come to rely on.