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.