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Bioethics Seminar: Pharmacists’ views on the logistics and ethics of supplying tobacco as an endgame initiative

Career advisers, Future students, Parents, Public, Undergraduate students, Postgraduate students, Staff, Alumni, Allied health professionals
Event type
Academic, Lecture
Bioethics Centre

Tobacco endgame strategies aim to reduce the widespread availability of smoked tobacco. However, while some US pharmacists have delisted tobacco, proposals from Aotearoa/New Zealand have suggested limiting tobacco sales to pharmacies as a short-term measure to support cessation.

Using in-depth interviews, we explored how 17 pharmacists perceived this measure and analysed their ethical position. Most participants noted time, space and safety concerns and had strong moral objections to supplying tobacco. Adopting a deontological lens, they felt supplying tobacco would reduce them to sales assistants, undermine their role as health experts, and tarnish their profession. A minority took a utilitarian perspective and anticipated they could improve community wellbeing.

Policy makers are likely to encounter strong opposition if they attempt to introduce a pharmacy-supply model as a first-tier retail reduction measure. However, as smoking prevalence falls, adopting a health-promoting supply model via pharmacies would become more feasible, could enable better community out-reach and cessation support, and support tobacco endgame goals.

About Janet Hoek

Janet's first degrees were in English Literature and she also studied Botany, Zoology, Microbiology, and French.

Her Honours research examined nineteenth century poetry and she explored irony Beowulf, a very early medieval poem, in her Masters thesis. She later completed a post-graduate diploma in marketing and her PhD examined question wording effects in surveys.

Janet is co-director of ASPIRE 2025, a University of Otago Research Theme whose members undertake research supporting the Government's smokefree 2025 goal.

Janet has led several Health Research Council projects. Her work has examined plain (or standardised) packaging and tobacco branding, and informed policy in New Zealand and internationally; a subsequent study project examined novel on-pack tobacco warnings. She led a feasibility study assessing 'smart' e-cigarettes and is currently project examining how to encourage full transition from smoking to e-cigarettes among smokers while deterring uptake among non-smokers.

Along with several public health colleagues and key external partners, Janet has just received funding for an HRC programme: Whakahā o Te Pā Harakeke (Realising the vision for a smokefree future), and a further project, which will examine interventions to promote and support cessation among RYO users. Janet has also received funding from the Royal Society Marsden Fund; she led a project that critically evaluated tobacco industry arguments framing smoking as an “informed choice”.

Janet is currently leading a second Marsden study probing identity shifts as smokers adopt vaping and potentially become both smoke and vape-free. Janet has been a member of several NGO and government advisory groups, provided evidence to government and Select Committees, and was a member of an Australian government expert advisory group overseeing the introduction of plain packaging.

She has sat on several research grant and selection committees, as well as strategy development and policy groups.

She was Deputy Chair of the 2018 PBRF Business and Economics panel.

Streaming information

For those who cannot attend in person, you are welcome to join remotely.

Join from PC, Mac, iOS or Android

Zoom link:
Meeting ID: 922 351 556
Password: 595584

To those joining online, we ask that you please mute yourselves upon arrival to avoid any accidental interruptions.

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