09/12/2014 12:35 EDT | Updated 11/15/2014 05:59 EST

Baddeck Pharmacist Pulls Sugary Drinks Off Shelves

A Cape Breton pharmacist has pulled all sugary drinks off the shelves of his store in a stand against sugar.

Graham MacKenzie, pharmacist and owner of Stone's Pharmasave in Baddeck, said he made the move amidst growing calls for Canadians to drastically cut the amount of sugar they consume.

"It made no sense to me. Just in good conscience, we just couldn't continue selling," he told CBC's Maritime Noon.

MacKenzie removed pop, diet pop, juice and vitamin water from the pharmacy's shelves on Thursday.

"We're talking 10 to 11 teaspoons of sugar in some of these drinks. There is no argument that that's not healthy for customers," MacKenzie said.

"Refined sugar is almost as addictive as some street drugs. It starts at an early age."

He said his pharmacy does a lot of one-on-one consultations that end up veering into giving nutritional advice to patients.

"Just about every conversation led to, 'Please don't drink pop.' Juice is, the sugar in it is, not the healthy thing you've been made to believe your whole life. So as they're leaving the store they're walking past the coolers and the juice," MacKenzie said.

The pharmacist said he had been thinking about pulling the drinks for the past four to six months. He hopes the move will educate customers.

"I don't think I'm going to stop people. They can go a block and get a drink of pop, you can go anywhere and get some juice or pop. I don't think I can bar people from drinking. It's just the act of doing this will hopefully spur them into thinking, 'OK, there is something wrong with this,'" he said.

MacKenzie stresses the move is personal and he understands many other pharmacies have different business models.

Sugar intake should be cut, says foundation

"If government wanted to look at it, that would be awesome," he said.

The store isn't sugar free yet.

"We're still carrying virtually everything else. We have bars and chips and things like that but these things are going to be reviewed as well. Hopefully we'll be cleaning out more of our selection in the store this year," he said.

Earlier this week, the Heart and Stroke Foundation said Canadians should curb their sugar consumption to no more than 10 per cent of overall calories or about 12 teaspoons a day.

The group said excess sugar consumption is linked to heart disease, stroke, obesity, diabetes, high blood cholesterol, cancer and cavities.

Canadians currently consume about 20 per cent of their daily calories as sugar. That's about 72 grams of added or free sugars, or about 18 teaspoons, according to the foundation.

Added sugars include glucose, fructose, sucrose, brown sugar, honey, corn syrup, maple syrup, molasses, fruit puree and juice.


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