Safeway Inc. has sued San Francisco over a law banning tobacco sales in stores containing pharmacies..

March 14, 2011 - Safeway Inc. has sued San Francisco over a law banning tobacco sales in stores containing pharmacies, claiming that the law gives an unfair advantage to markets that don't sell prescription drugs.

SOME KEY RELATED NEWS BRIEFS:
March 13, 2010 -
San Francisco - Walgreens tries to convince court it's a grocery store..;
October 16, 2009 - San Francisco - Philip Morris has dropped its lawsuit challenging San Francisco's prohibition on tobacco sales at pharmacies..;
September 10, 2009 - San Francisco can enforce its ban on tobacco sales in drugstores..;
December 21, 2008 - San Francisco - Judge threw out a Walgreens attempt to stop the ban of tobacco sales in pharmacies..;
November 7, 2008 - Federal Judge Denies Bid To Stop San Francisco Pharmacy Tobacco Ban..;
October 24, 2008 - Philip Morris USA request stop in San Francisco's ban on tobacco sales by pharmacies..;
October 9, 2008 - San Francisco files brief to oppose bid by PM USA to block the banning of tobacco sales in pharmacies..;
September 30, 2008 - Superior Court Judge clears the way for San Francisco's ban on tobacco sales at pharmacies..;
September 28, 2008 - U.S. District Judge clears the way for San Francisco's ban on tobacco sales at pharmacies...
July 30 2008 - San Francisco - All Tobacco Products Banned in All Pharmacies..
May 10, 2008 - SAN FRANCISCO Ban on tobacco at drug stores sought...
The lawsuit calls the tobacco ban "arbitrary and capricious," and "a denial of Safeway's due process rights under the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution."

A spokesman for City Attorney Dennis Herrera, however, said the suit has no merit. "We think the lawsuit is frivolous, and we believe the court will dismiss the case," said Jack Song, Herrera's spokesman.

Safeway's suit, filed Feb. 18, is the latest in a string of lawsuits challenging a 2008 law banning tobacco sales in pharmacies. A lawsuit by corporate tobacconist Philip Morris was thrown out. But a California appeals sided with Walgreens, after the company sued claiming San Francisco's law allowed unfairly allowed grocery stores to sell tobacco -- even if the stores contained pharmacies.

To work around the Walgreen decision, the Board of Supervisors passed legislation that amended the 2008 law by adding Costco, Safeway, and any other stores containing pharmacies, to the no-tobacco sales list. (San Francisco - Board of Supervisors tentatively approved banning stores with pharmacies from selling cigarettes..)

The idea was to nullify Walgreens' lawsuit. But it spawned new litigation by Safeway, which said it feels it's now being singled out.

The amended ordinance's attempt "to distinguish between retail grocery stores without licensed pharmacies and those with licensed pharmacies does not in any principled way justify the unequal and prejudicial treatment afforded to retail grocery stores with pharmacies somewhere on their premises," the lawsuit said.

Song, however, said the city will prevail because San Francisco's tobacco sales ban was written expressly to satisfy appeals court judges. "We're doing exactly what the California Court of Appeals told us to do. They asked us to treat all stores with pharmacies the same, and that's exactly what we're doing now," Song said.

Reference: San Francisco - Safeway Sues Over San Francisco Tobacco Ban by Matt Smith, SFweekly.com, 3/10/2011 - In this reference: See comments from Safeway spokeswoman Susan Houghton..

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