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FLORIDA PHARMACY TO QUIT SELLING CIGARETTES

After 32 years of selling cigarettes, the owners of a Florida pharmacy have decided to quit, cold turkey.

"When you see your customers dying of lung cancer and emphysema . . ., you start thinking about it," said Robert Allen, vice president of Atkinson's Pharmacies, in this Jacksonville suburb.The pharmacy used to sell about 200 cartons a week, Allen said.

The family-owned business was influenced by a story this year about a New Jersey pharmacist who burned his stock of cigarettes after a longtime customer died of lung cancer.

Walter Merryman, spokesman for the American Tobacco Institute, said he has heard of two other small pharmacies that have given up tobacco sales.

Atkinson's Pharmacies has three stores. One never sold cigarettes, and the third is being sold to a chain, Allen said.