San Francisco Fights Tobacco Companies

Tomorrow, San Francisco’s City Attorney’s office goes up against the legal powerhouse that is the team of lawyers that Phillip Morris brings to bear in pretty much any suit.  To summarize, the City banned the sale of tobacco products in pharmacies.  Phillip Morris was pretty pissed about that.  Not having any legal claim that makes sense to the random joe off the street, they went with the jack of all trades: The First Amendment.

Yes, you read that right, Big Tobacco thinks that we here in SF are stifling their freedom of speech by not allowing them to sell their poisonous products in outlets that are supposed to be geared towards health. Unsurprisingly, the lower court smacked down that argument. Big Tobacco appealed, and they are now going before 9th Circuit Judge Alex Kozinski (as well as Judges Reinhardt and Hug), always an entertainer in his own right.

“Consumers ought to have a reasonable expectation that drugstores will serve their health needs, not enable their deadliest habits,” said City Attorney Dennis Herrera.  “San Francisco’s elected officials have a legitimate right to protect the public health, and there is nothing about the City’s ban on tobacco sales in pharmacies that impinges on the tobacco industry’s First Amendment rights.”

The hearing is at 9:30 tomorrow morning.

10 thoughts on “San Francisco Fights Tobacco Companies”

  1. Since when did “drug store” stop being a store where you buy drugs?

    Is there really a greater expectation that drugs stores are there to sell health needs than sell drugs? And if so, when did that happen because that sure as hell isn’t consistent with the history of drug stores.

    And if a “drug store” is a store that sells drugs (like tobacco) then Herrara’s argument doesn’t make any sense.

  2. once again, SF passes laws that have little effect. So what if Walgreen’s can’t sell cigarettes? Every little store that’s not a “chain” can sell them, and this is one of those laws we pass that make us feel like we’re doing something, when in fact SF doesn’t have the courage to do an outright ban that would apply equally (imagine the effect if no pharmacy or corner store could sell cigs!)

    It’s just like that phony ‘ban’ on plastic bags. We did NOT BAN PLASTIC BAGS, people, only in the “chain” stores. So while I get a huge paper bag for two items at Safeway, every single corner store, ethinc market, and “non chain” still uses plastic bags. Since I don’t do all my shopping at Whole Paycheck or some other equally annoying big store all the time, I now have a lovely collection of plastic bags.

    If Newsom and the liberals had any courage, they woulda gone for the full ban and fought off Big Petroleum to keep the ban. Instead, a half assed thing that makes us liberals feel great, but does nada.

  3. The problem is that pharmacies are licensed by the state, not by the city.  By what authority does the city ban the sale of certain legal products in certain stores?  What if the City of San Jose required all pharmacies to sell tobacco products in all California stores?  (The penalty would be to lose their business license in San Jose.)

    The City of San Francisco is certainly free to regulate for the common weal when it is something unique to their own jurisdiction.  The problem is that we end up with all these little “kingdoms” around the state as each municipality decides that it will make a statement about some issue.

    The City of San Francisco also gave plenty of ammunition to conservatives who will (correctly in this case) complain about the “nanny” aspects of government.

    After all, if the City wanted to ban tobacco sales, why not ban them everywhere in the city?  Why only in pharmacies?

    Have you seen pharmacies lately?  The big ones sell liquor, too.  They sell pre-packed, high cholesterol foods.  One could go on and on.  This ordinance is just silly.

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