San Francisco - Judge threw out a Walgreens attempt to stop the ban of tobacco sales in pharmacies..

December 21, 2008 - San Francisco Superior Court Judge Peter Busch, who in late September also refused to allow a preliminary injunction to stop the city's ordinance banning tobacco sales by pharmacies dismissed the Walgreen Co. lawsuit Friday, December 19, 2008 that challenged the ban altogether, according to Matt Dorsey, a spokesman for the city attorney's office.

Attorneys for the Deerfield, Ill.-based pharmacy chain had argued San Francisco's ordinance violated equal protection laws because the ban exempts supermarkets like Safeway and "big box" retail stores like Costco, which also contain pharmacies and sell cigarettes. Pharmacies such as Walgreens, which operates more than 50 stores in San Francisco, and Rite Aid, are included in the ban, as well as smaller independently owned pharmacies.

Dorsey said the decision Friday also renders Walgreens' appeal of Busch's preliminary injunction decision, currently before a state appeals court, moot. The company would now have to file a new appeal in order to continue to challenge the ordinance, he said.

San Francisco's effort appears to have attracted attention on the opposite coast. On Dec. 1, the Boston Public Health Commission approved a similar law, banning tobacco sales in pharmacies and drug stores, as well as hospitals and colleges. The law is set to take effect in February 2009. (Boston bans cigarette sales in drug stores..)

Reference: S.F. Judge Throws Out Walgreen's Cigarette Lawsuit,, 12/19/2008.

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