Booze, Cigarettes Under Fire in the City

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Booze and cigarettes are on the San Francisco Board of  Supervisors' agenda Tuesday.

    There are  votes scheduled on overturning a mayoral veto  of a controversial fee on alcohol wholesalers, and on the expansion of the  city's ban on tobacco sales at stores with pharmacies.
         
    The alcohol fee measure, which was strongly opposed by restaurant  and bar owners in the city, would impose a 35-cent fee for every gallon of  beer sold by wholesalers in the city, a $1 fee for every gallon of wine, and  a $3.20 fee for every gallon of hard alcohol. Small businesses would get a  quarterly exclusion of up to $1,000 in fees.
         
    The money would go toward recovering the city's alcohol-related  health care and ambulance costs, and alcohol prevention and treatment  programs.
         
    But business owners argued the fee would be passed on to retailers  and consumers.
         
    The board approved the alcohol fee by a 7-3 vote last Tuesday,  with one supervisor, Michela Alioto-Pier, recusing herself because her wine  business would be impacted by the fee.
         
    Mayor Gavin Newsom vetoed the measure later that day, saying it  would hurt San Francisco's economy and discourage businesses from staying in  or moving to the city. He also said the law could be subject to costly legal  challenges.
         
    The board needs eight votes to overturn the veto this afternoon.
         
    Also being considered today is an expansion of the city's ban on  tobacco sales at stores with pharmacies, to include larger grocery and  big-box stores such as Safeway, Lucky and Costco.
         
    Supporters have said that cigarette sales at stores that also sell  medicines sends a mixed message, particularly to youth.
         
    The initial law, approved in 2008, was challenged by Walgreen Co.,  which argued that the exemption for larger stores was unconstitutional.
         
    The board approved the expansion with an initial vote of 7-3 last  Tuesday. A second vote will take place this afternoon. If approved, Newsom's  office has indicated the mayor will sign it.
         
    Today's meeting begins at 2 p.m. at City Hall.