MAY 31, 2006

Store policies scare shoppers

       Things we used to be able to buy with discretion and slip through the checkout seemingly unnoticed are now embarrassing shoppers when in the store.
       Recently the province took cold medicines off the shelf and now a pharmacist or store clerk has to be asked to retrieve the product for you. While many of us wouldnít be embarrassed to buy cold medicine, what about something a little more personal like condoms or a pregnancy test?
       I was at a grocery store last week and walked passed the pharmacy and noticed several empty shelves with signs on them. I took a closer look and noticed that the missing products were pregnancy tests and condoms. The sign read ďPlease see the pharmacist for assistance with this product."
       I thought about this new policy and it had me wondering what happened to anonymity when stopping in at a store to pick up these delicate items. I wondered if having to ask for products like this would have teenagers too embarrassed to even bother to buy them.
       Letís set a scene: Youíre a teenage boy and youíre meeting up with your girlfriend but you donít want anybody to know that you are sexually active. If itís a small community and people all know each other, this could be a perfect reason to avoid hitting the store to pick up some of these potentially life-saving and pregnancy-stopping condoms.
       Another scene: Youíre a teenage girl and because your boyfriend told you he couldnít pick up condoms a few weeks ago you run to the store to pick up a pregnancy test. But as you nonchalantly walk passed the family planning section you see that you have to ask for the product and you feel too embarrassed and continue on your way without bothering to put yourself through the frightening experience.
       So while we hope young adults will be responsible about making the right choices when it comes to safer sex, we might actually be scaring them away.
       Itís believed that pharmacists can offer information and educate customers about sexual health but the experience may be too humiliating that some people wonít even bother to think about safety first and put themselves at risk.
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