Philadelphia, October 24, 2014 – The City of Philadelphia, in partnership with CVS Caremark, announced the creation of the first tobacco-free pharmacy network in the country, called the Preferred Health Network. The Preferred Health Network, which will take effect Jan. 1, 2015, encourages City employees who are not covered by union-offered health benefits to make use of pharmacies that do not sell tobacco products. City employees who choose not to get their prescriptions filled at Preferred Health Network pharmacies will incur an additional $15 per prescription charge that will be added to prescriptions filled at non-network pharmacies, in addition to any applicable co-payment.
“From launching Get Healthy Philly to implementing a high-impact wellness program for City employees and from prohibiting smoking in City parks to increasing the fines on retailers who sell tobacco products to minors, our Administration is dedicated to improving the health and wellness of our City employees and all Philadelphians and decreasing the number of smokers in this city,” said Mayor Michael A. Nutter. “In creating the first tobacco-free pharmacy network in the country, the City of Philadelphia is leading by example. It is encouraging City employees to be healthy, promoting shopping at small, independent businesses and impacting the health of the broader community. Having fewer tobacco retailers in a neighborhood is associated with more successful attempts to smoking quit and a reduction in the likelihood of starting the habit. I am proud of this creative approach to reduce Philadelphia’s dependence on tobacco, and I look forward to the success of this initiative.”
To date, more than 135 independent pharmacies throughout the Philadelphia region, including 85 in the city, and three retail chains, CVS Pharmacy, Target Pharmacy and Wegmans Pharmacy, have registered to participate in the Preferred Health Network through an initial recruitment campaign conducted by CVS Caremark.
Independent pharmacies that want to participate in or have questions regarding registering for the Preferred Health Network, should email www.RX-PHN@phila.gov.
The City also announced that, effective Jan. 1, 2015, City employees who receive their health coverage through the City of Philadelphia will be subject to a $500 annual increase to their health care benefit costs if the City employee or their covered spouse or life partner has used tobacco products during the last year. However, if the City employee or her covered spouse or life partner completes a City-approved smoking cessation program before May 2015, the $500 increase will be reduced for the remainder of the year by the appropriate pro-rated amount.
The Preferred Health Network continues the City’s long-standing commitment to improve the City’s public health through the reduction of tobacco product use:
- As part the City’s prescription drug benefits plan and the City’s Get Healthy Philly initiative, the City covers six of seven FDA approved smoking cessation medications for exempt and non-represented employees. For more information, log on to www.phila.gov/gethealthyphilly;
- The Philadelphia Department of Public Health also runs Smoke Free Philly, a program that offers support and tools to help smokers quit. For more information, log on to www.smokefreephilly.orgor call 1-800-QUIT-NOW; and
- Although the intention of the new $2 per pack Cigarette Tax is to provide much-needed funds to the Philadelphia School District, the Philadelphia Department of Public Health has noted that research demonstrates that cigarette price increases lead to reductions in smoking among youth and adults. The Department estimates that the number of Philadelphia smokers will decline by 10-15% over the next five years as a result of the price increase.