September 22, 2010 - In 2008, San Francisco became the first city in the country to ban cigarette sales in drugstores such as Walgreens and Rite Aid, prompting a lawsuit from Walgreens saying it wasn't fair to allow grocery stores and big-box stores with pharmacies inside them to continue selling tobacco. The California Court of Appeal sided with Walgreens in June, prompting Supervisors Eric Mar and Bevan Dufty to craft legislation to close the loophole. (San Francisco - Walgreens tries to convince court it's a grocery store..; San Francisco - Judge threw out a Walgreens attempt to stop the ban of tobacco sales in pharmacies.. )
San Francisco's public health department director says it sends the wrong message, especially to kids. Mitch Katz says drugstores should be selling healthy items because people go there to buy prescription drugs and other products that help them get better. He doesn't expect the law to persuade any current smokers to quit, but said it might prevent youths from starting.
The new legislation is designed to close that loophole by extending the ban to formerly exempted stores. That means no more tossing a pack of cigarettes into the cart at Safeway or Costco. If approved at a final reading next week, Tuesday's vote closes the loophole.
References: SF Supes OK expanded ban on cigarette sales, Carolyn Tyler, KGO-TV/DT abc7, 9/21/2010; Board to vote on expanding ban on tobacco sales, Heather Knight, Chronicle Staff Writer, San Francisco Chronicle, 9/21/2010. For more information: San Francisco supes OK expanded tobacco sales ban by TREVOR HUNNICUTT For The Associated Press, DailyComet.com, 9/21/2010.
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