San Francisco Forced to Explain Cigarette Ban Again

Drugstore ban of cigarette sales goes before appellate court

By Sajid Farooq
|  Wednesday, Aug 12, 2009  |  Updated 12:45 PM PDT
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San Francisco Forced to Explain Cigarette Ban Again

Orin Zebest

Cigarette butts and a ban of tobacco sales in pharmacies could make life more difficult for San Francisco smokers.

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San Francisco's alleged war on cigarettes will come before a judge on Wednesday.

The City Attorney's Office will defend an ordinance passed last year that bans the sale of tobacco in San Francisco pharmacies.

The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals will hear the argument after tobacco seller Philip Morris lost a December decision to ban the measure. The company said it violated its First Amendment right to free speech, the San Francisco Examiner reported.

"Consumers ought to have a reasonable expectation that drugstores will serve their health needs, not enable their deadliest habits," said City Attorney Dennis Herrera told the paper.

Life for cigarette smokers in the City has been getting more difficult recently. In May, the Board of Supervisors voted to add a 33 cent tax to each pack of cigarettes sold in San Francisco to clean up cigarette butts left on the street.

“Cigarette butts contain benzene and toxic heavy metals that can poison the marine environment and leach into groundwater,” Mayor Gavin Newsom said in May. “All litter creates unnecessary costs for the city and its taxpayers. Cigarette butts are a big part of the problem.”

But the crash strapped city also had a financial motivator. A City audit on litter reported San Francisco spends $44,282,843 per year picking up trash, and $10,694,425 per year is directly attributable to cigarette litter.

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