Although community pharmacists have a well-established and culturally acknowledged role supplying medicines, the reconfiguration of occupational boundaries within healthcare in England and other countries (Charles-Jones et al. 2003) has resulted in increasing policy and professional interest in developing the role of the pharmacist in a number of areas. Whilst many of the new roles for pharmacists involve the sale or supply of medicines by different means (for example, via patient group directions or pharmacist prescribing) and are mainly aimed at improving access to medicines, other suggested developments shift community pharmacy practice into rather more unfamiliar territory. In particular, there is now increasing interest in the role that pharmacists might play in public health, and the term ‘pharmaceutical public health’ is increasingly heard within practice research circles and pharmacy policy more generally, both in the UK and abroad (Boorman et al. 2001; Anderson et al. 2003; Jones et al. 2004). For example, the Department of Health in England has devoted considerable attention to the idea of pharmaceutical public health.