Leo Levasseur, a Saanich resident leading the crusade against cigarettes being sold in B.C. drugstores, is planning another protest and a letter-writing campaign.
Levasseur is inviting the public to join him at a demonstration in front of the B.C. Legislature on Monday, Oct. 7 to protest the fact that B.C. is the only province that still allows drugstores to sell tobacco products.
All are welcome to bring their signs and join the demonstration, he said.
Levasseur, who runs several anti-smoking Facebook groups with over 10,000 followers combined, has been fighting to have tobacco products removed from drugstores for a long time. He feels it’s hypocritical for drugstores to sell cigarettes while also offering smoking cessation programs funded by the B.C. government.
“I don’t want my tax dollars to go to a drugstore that’s playing for both teams,” said Levasseur after a protest outside London Drugs on Quadra Street in August.
The demonstration will be followed by a letter-writing campaign. Levasseur and his fellow protesters will be contacting the Minister of Health, Adrian Dix, and suggesting three possible actions to take: take cigarettes out of B.C. drug stores, remove the smoking cessation program from the drugstores that sell cigarettes or turn all drugstores that sell cigarettes into safe injection sites to support safety of all drug users.
Levasseur has been in contact with the Ministry of Health before. In August, Matt Herman, a representative from the ministry, explained that while the province doesn’t allow pharmacies to display or promote tobacco sales, it’s B.C.’s policy to let drug stores decide to stop selling cigarettes.
London Drugs is one of the drugstores in B.C. that chooses to sell cigarettes. Clint Mahlman, London Drugs president and chief operating officer, explained that the company feels the best way to help people stop smoking is to offer smoking cessation while they’re buying cigarettes. he worries that if drugstores stopped selling regulated tobacco products, then the only place to buy them would be convenience stores which don’t offer cessation programs.
Levasseur hopes to garner enough support to send about 3000 emails to Dix in time for the start of the fall legislative session which resumes on Oct. 7.