Rep. Tanzi bill to help people
quit smoking passes House


STATE HOUSE – The House of Representatives today passed a bill sponsored by Rep. Teresa Tanzi that would allow qualified pharmacists to prescribe tobacco cessation drug therapies to patients struggling with nicotine addiction. That, advocates say, will help those who are ready to quit do so successfully.

“When someone struggling with nicotine addiction is ready to make a change, we should be there to help them,” said Representative Tanzi (D-Dist. 34, South Kingstown, Narragansett). “Access to tobacco cessation drug therapies doubles their chances of successfully quitting. But a shortage of primary care providers means it can take too long for folks to get a prescription. By empowering our local pharmacists to help folks access treatment, we’ll offer them a hand up when they’re ready to grab it.”

The legislation (2023-H 5555) would allow licensed pharmacists who have completed education on FDA-approved tobacco cessation therapy drugs to prescribe such medications to eligible patients who complete an initial intake evaluation and commit to appropriate follow-up visits. It passed the house unanimously.

Eight other states, including New Mexico, Utah and Vermont, have similar legislation, while at least 16 states offer pharmacists some authority to prescribe tobacco cessation treatments.

Smoking tobacco is associated with serious illness and premature death. Each year, about half of smokers try to quit permanently, but only about 6% are able to do so successfully due to an addiction to nicotine, according to the National Institute of Health.

Research shows that tobacco cessation drug therapies, such as nicotine replacement therapies, bupropion or varenicline dramatically increase individual’s chances of successfully quitting. While some treatments, such as nicotine gum and patches, are available over-the-counter, others are only available by prescription.

Enabling pharmacists embedded in local communities to talk to patients about these treatments and prescribe them when appropriate will lead to more individuals successfully quitting tobacco use, advocates say.

“Helping individuals quit smoking is a difficult task, which may require more than ten touchpoints or attempts to be successful,” said Chris Federico, president-elect of the Rhode Island Pharmacists Association. “Pharmacists are one of the most accessible health care providers in the country, with 90% of the population living within five miles of a pharmacy, meaning we can play a vital role in helping patients access the treatment they need to quit. We thank Rep. Tanzi for her work and look forward to supporting the full passage and implementation of this bill.”

The bill now heads to the Rhode Island Senate where Sen. Bridget Valverde (D-Dist. 35, North Kingstown, East Greenwich, South Kingstown) has introduced companion legislation (2023-S 0292).



President Biden is praising lawmakers on both sides of aisles for coming together to pass a debt ceiling bill and avert a potential economic disaster. In his first address to the nation from the Oval Office, the president said the budget agreement was critical and the stakes could not have been higher. The president plans to sign the bill Saturday ahead of the Monday deadline, when the Treasury Department said the U.S. could default on its debt.        Former President Trump says he's "at least as innocent" as his vice president after Pence was cleared of charges related to classified documents at his home. The Justice Department said today it wouldn't bring charges against the former Vice President, and Trump wrote on Truth Social that he should be "fully exonerated" on what he called a "hoax." The DOJ found a few sensitive documents at Pence's home, but in Trump's case federal agents raided his Mar-a-Lago home last year after his refusal to cooperate with the National Archives for months.       The White House says the U.S. won't engage in a nuclear arms race with Russia and China. National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan told the Arms Control Association in Washington today that the U.S. does not need to increase its nuclear forces to successfully deter its nuclear competitors. He said the Biden administration is focusing on non-nuclear capabilities such as hypersonic missiles that can reach "heavily defended, high-value targets."        Amazon could soon offer low-cost or free mobile phone services to Prime subscribers. Bloomberg reports the tech giant is in talks with multiple telecom providers like Verizon and T-Mobile. Amazon is reportedly looking to be able to offer wireless plans for ten dollars or less a month.        Federal regulators warn Venmo and PayPal users not to store cash in the app. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau's Director warned in a statement that payment apps have been "increasingly used as substitutes for a traditional bank" but they don't have the same protections to make sure that cash is safe. The agency said more than three in four U.S. adults have used at least one of such apps.       Mexican police say they found 45 bags of human remains that match seven missing members of call center staff. According to the state prosecutor's office in Jalisco, police discovered them in a ravine near Guadalajara. Seven young employees at a call center were reported missing between May 20th and 22nd in the city.