Tobacco-Free Pharmacies (in memory of Fred)

Tribute to the late Fred Mayer, Leader of the National Tobacco-Free Pharmacy Movement and Life-Long Public Health Advocate


It is with sad hearts that we learn of the recent passing of Fred Mayer. Fred was a member of the Smoke-Free Marin Coalition for the past 25 years. 

 Fred assisted with dozens of local tobacco control ordinances including smoke-free restaurants, bars, outdoor areas, multi-unit housing, tobacco retailer licensing ordinances and Flavor ordinances.  His primary focus was tobacco-free pharmacies - a national movement he launched that led the way to local “tobacco-free pharmacy” ordinances in almost every community in Marin County.

 Fred worked closely with Bob Gordon, (another Smoke-Free Marin Coalition member who is also Co-Chair of the San Francisco Tobacco-Free Coalition).  Bob Gordon serves as Project Director for the California LGBT Tobacco Education Partnership with an objective to pass more tobacco-free pharmacy policies..  Bob and Fred began their successful long-term working relationship with the initial San Francisco Policy to end the sale of ban all tobacco products in pharmacies in 2008, an effort which spread nation-wide after winning several court battles against Big Tobacco.

 Fred also presented at APHA and many other national public health conferences. Fred kept everyone informed of public health and pharmacy issues through a steady stream of emails starting with “Gang.....” We will miss those!


 As an active member of the Smoke-Free Marin Coalition, Fred was always the first one to make a motion for letters to local, state-wide and national elected leaders on public health legislation. Fred Mayer also facilitated a collaboration between Touro University interns and the Smoke-Free Marin Coalition. Fred was a true-blue health educator and a prolific writer of many Op-Eds and articles educating the public about public health issues.

 Collaborating with the Marin County Tobacco-Related Disease Control Program, Fred's organization PPSI (Pharmacists Planning Services, Inc.) created training programs for local pharmacists to help their patients quit smoking. He and his staff (including Dr. Aglaia Panos) and interns also provided training for the health care providers about the harms of drug interactions with CBD and THC products combined with pharmaceuticals.  

 Fred was well known to almost everyone in pharmacy as both an advocate for the profession and, for over 50 years, as a champion of many public health causes, including The Great American Smoke Out, National Condom Week, Medication Take Back Day and RX Safe Marin.

Last month, Fred was honored by the Pharmacy Section of the American Public Health Association as the first recipient of the Lifetime Achievement Award.

 In 2018, Fred transitioned PPSI, his Pharmacy Planning Service organization to the American College of Apothecaries Research and Education Foundation.

 His legacy lives on in the lives of addiction-free youth who will never know of his lifetime of hard work on their behalf.   The Smoke-Free Marin Coalition extends its deepest gratitude to Fred's family for his enduring contribution to public health. 

Marin IJ Article about Fred Mayer by Richard Halstead:


Marin County Board of Supervisors Commending

Fred Mayer

For His Contributions to the greater County of Marin and Beyond as a Life-Long Public Health Advocate


       WHEREAS, Fred Mayer has been working tirelessly for well over a half-century to advance public health, and is known as the “guru” in the United States for all things public health and pharmacy-related; and,  


            WHEREAS, Fred’s father died when he was six months old, so his early years were spent in orphanages in Kansas City and Denver until reunited with his mother in Hunters Point; and,  


            WHEREAS, Fred always knew he wanted to be a pharmacist, trusted and accessible, so began working at Geary Drugs at the age of 12, then went to UCSF School of Pharmacy (working 3 jobs and almost flunking out), where he graduated in 1954 before receiving his Master’s in Public Health Administration at UC Berkeley; and,  


            WHEREAS, Fred owned and ran Sausalito Pharmacy for 35 years and became a prominent fixture in the community, pioneering such ideas as taking customer’s blood pressure inside his store, prominently displaying and promoting condom use, and banning the sale of tobacco (rumor has it he gathered up all the cigarettes one day and had a bonfire out back); and,


            WHEREAS, in 1975, while running his pharmacy, Fred founded the Pharmacists Planning Service, Inc (PPSI), a non-profit organization that promotes pharmacy consumer rights and public health education; and,


            WHEREAS, Fred was appointed to the Clinical Faculty at UCSF, School of Pharmacy and Touro University, where he has taught public health; and,


            WHEREAS, under Fred’s leadership as CEO, PPSI led over 50 national public health campaigns, including the Great American Smokeout (helping 50 million Americans quit smoking), safety caps on prescription vials, and increasing the print size on over-the-counter drug warning labels to increae readability for seniors; and,


            WHEREAS, Fred has also been a pioneer in reproductive health and reduction of sexually transmitted diseases and unplanned pregnancies in the U.S., especially among teens, through work with Planned Parenthood, condom awareness campaigns (National Condom Week), and promoting sex education in schools; and,


            WHEREAS, Fred has consistantly inspired public health leaders to match his radical commitment to community wellbeing and tireless advocacy for consumers; and 


            WHEREAS, Fred’s style of proactive and collaborative leadership has driven successful grassroots initiatives in Marin including the Smoke Free Marin Coalition and RxSafe Marin; and


            WHEREAS, at 86 years old, Fred is still a master multi-tasker and as busy as ever – mentoring pharmacy students at Touro University, speaking out, writing op-eds on issues of concern and spending time with his four children and six grandchildren.  


            NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the Board of Supervisors of the County of Marin, hereby thank and commend Fred Mayer for his contributions too numerous to count that have made this County, the United States and beyond a healthier and safer place to live.   


            PASSED AND ADOPTED at a regular meeting of the Board of Supervisors of the County of Marin held this 17th day of December 2019.



The Marin County Board of Supervisors' tribute to Fred starts at 21:27 on this video archive:





Poem tribute to Fred by Dr. Matt Willis, County Health Officer (which he read at the Marin County Board of Supervisors December 17,2019 Resolution for Fred):

Fred at the mike

 You spoke loudest and longest

Even after your time was up

And some if it is sinking in



If I saw what you saw

I might rant too

If my vision extended to the prevented harms, the non-events


In Condom week

You saw the cachectic passing from AIDS that did not happen,


In your Great American smoke-out,

The air-hungry deaths from cancer prevented,


The generations enabled to Be

by an overdose averted


Looking through your eyes I see the sum

of the joys made possible

by the outbreak that didn’t happen

but would have


the pop flys and the leafy walks, 

the births

the usual, assumed and ongoing


Your time is not up


Your voice will be carried

By others who learned your way of seeing

What love for the future

looks like in action

Bob Gordon of the Statewide Tobacco-Free Pharmacy Project shared these articles and this photo of Fred and Bob at the Ferry Terminal Building, meeting for a business lunch 12 years ago. These articles really capture our amazing Fred!

From 12 years ago: Article from Jewish Weekly News - 12 years ago: At 75, pharmacist still just what doctor ordered – J.

Fred at the Marin County Board of Supervisors, standing up to Big Cannabis, just like he stood up to Big Tobacco and Big Vape and he explained to us that these three industries have merged. We are grateful to Fred for always telling us the inconvenient truth! His legacy lives on in his many projects and the public health benefits we now enjoy.  



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