Legal Consortium files amicus (friend of the court) brief in first impression tobacco-free pharmacy case..

April 2, 2009 - William Mitchell’s Tobacco Control Legal Consortium and its California affiliate, the Tobacco Assistance Legal Center, filed an amicus brief at the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals on March 24 defending San Francisco’s pioneering ban on pharmacy sales of tobacco products against a First Amendment challenge by Philip Morris. This will be the first appellate decision on the validity of pharmacy sales bans of tobacco products and likely will set precedent for the country.

The San Francisco ordinance has survived an initial round of challenges after both Philip Morris and Walgreens requested injunctions to stop enforcement of the ban on selling tobacco products in pharmacies. Both challenges were rejected and the law went into effect Oct. 1, stripping tobacco products from the city’s approximately 60 drug stores. Philip Morris, the nation’s largest tobacco company, immediately appealed the order. The appeal before the Ninth Circuit could take months to resolve.

The Legal Consortium’s brief was written by Linda Lye, an experienced appellate attorney at Altshuler Berzon in San Francisco, and was joined by 19 parties, including national medical, public health, and pharmaceutical organizations.

The brief argues that the consensus of the public health community is that tobacco products should not be sold in pharmacies and that doing so conflicts with pharmacists’ code of ethics. It points out that the tobacco control movement has focused on changing social and cultural attitudes toward tobacco, including restricting the availability of tobacco, and that prohibiting pharmacies to sell tobacco is one reasonable step to achieve the ultimate goal of reducing and eliminating tobacco use.

Read the Tobacco Control Legal Consortium’s amicus brief in Philip Morris USA, Inc. v. City and County of San Francisco et al.

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