ELIZABETH, N.J. -- ShopRite is giving significant in-store support to the Great American Smokeout, an annual campaign sponsored by Pittsburgh-based SmithKline Beecham Consumer Healthcare and the American Cancer Society, Atlanta.
Thirty ShopRite stores participated when the Smokeout kicked off, and eight more are committed for events, said Phyllis Ann Fobian, a corporate account manager at SmithKline Beecham.
SmithKline is the manufacturer of the Nicorette and Nicoderm brands of smoking-cessation products, which have the category's No. 1 and No. 2 multioutlet market shares, respectively, according to Information Resources Inc., Chicago.
Participating ShopRites hung posters, distributed brochures and gave away coupons for Nicorette and Nicoderm, as well as for other SmithKline products like Aqua Fresh whitening toothpaste. And ShopRite's parent company, Wakefern Food Corp. here, ran an ad in its circular featuring a $5-off coupon for Nicorette and Nicoderm.
SmithKline's NicoVan, a 32-foot-long, logo-emblazoned Winnebago carrying two representatives from the manufacturer, visited ShopRites in Oakland, N.J., and West Deptford, N.J., among other locations.
Michael Brill, pharmacy manager at a Bethlehem, Pa., ShopRite, said one afternoon his department devoted 10 time slots and two pharmacists to patient-counseling sessions in the pharmacy's private counseling room. The store normally displays smoking cessation products at the front of the pharmacy, he added.
A total of 185 pharmacists took part in stop-smoking counseling certification seminars in September, according to Fobian. The seminars were sponsored by SmithKline Beecham and led by pharmacy professors from the University of Pittsburgh.
Brill said that to receive certification, pharmacists had to counsel a minimum of 10 patients. That preliminary work, he said, had already boosted sales of smoking cessation products at his store.
The increase, Brill noted, translated into sales of five Nicoderm patches per week as opposed to three before the counseling was begun.
"It wasn't a fast-moving item; it's something that people don't readily think of," he said, adding that he advised one patient not to go on the patch, but the patient did anyway "because he felt he needed that crutch."
Brill said that, despite efforts like the Great American Smokeout, he was not optimistic about smokers' chances for quitting.
"Definitely, sales of these products will go up," he said. "The climate is there for people to want to quit, and I think it's beneficial for the patch and the gum to be available.
"It's a good thing for people to stop smoking, but most of them aren't going to."
In the counseling certification seminars, Brill said, pharmacists were told that a 20% quit rate is considered good.
ShopRites of Lehigh Valley, which includes the Bethlehem store and another in Whitehall, Pa., have also eradicated indoor employee smoking areas as part of the Great American Smokeout. Employees who smoke now will have a designated smoking area outside, and will have the opportunity to earn a $100 savings bond if they can quit for at least four months.
Pharmacy counseling sessions will be free for employees as well, said Brill.
Steve Kapur, SmithKline Beecham's associate director of promotions for smoking cessation, said the company is also promoting the Great American Smokeout through TV and radio ads, including Nicorette and Nicoderm brand spots with Smokeout tags; regional ads in TV Guide with the participation of local retailers; and instant-coupon machines in stores.