San Francisco files brief to oppose bid by PM USA to block the banning of tobacco sales in pharmacies..

October 9, 2008 - Attorneys for the city of San Francisco made the argument in a brief filed with U.S. District Judge Claudia Wilken of Oakland Thursday (10/9/2008) that the city's ban on cigarette sales by pharmacies has nothing to do with free speech. Philip Morris USA (PM), the nation's largest tobacco company, claims the ban violates its First Amendment right of free speech by putting an end to cigarette advertising and displays in the pharmacy stores. PM argued in its September 25, 2008 lawsuit that the purpose and effect of the ordinance is "to suppress communications directed to adult smokers" in violation of the company's free-speech right.

Wilken will hold a hearing in Oakland on October 30, 2008 on the tobacco company's request for a preliminary injunction. Last month, she declined to grant a temporary restraining order that would have blocked the ban from going into effect on Oct. 1, 2008. A San Francisco Superior Court judge also refused to suspend the ordinance in a separate lawsuit filed by Walgreen Co., and the measure took effect as scheduled.

Lawyers from the office of City Attorney Dennis Herrera argued in today's filing that Philip Morris' free speech claim shows "no respect for the Constitution (and) no respect for the power of cities to protect the health of their citizens. The brief contends that if the measure "can prevent just a few young people from taking up smoking, becoming addicted to nicotine, and developing cancer, that would greatly outweigh any minimal, speculative financial loss that might be incurred by the tobacco industry.

Reference: San Francisco Says Smoking Ads Are Not Free Speech,, 10/9/2008.

Related news briefs: Philip Morris challenges San Francisco pharmacy tobacco ban..; Walgreen: San Francisco’s Tobacco Ban Is Unfair..; San Francisco - All Tobacco Products Banned in All Pharmacies..; San Francisco critical vote - bar tobacco sales pharmacies.. and SAN FRANCISCO Ban on tobacco at drug stores sought...