SF Supes OK expanded ban on cigarette sales

September 21, 2010 5:15:38 PM PDT
The San Francisco Board of Supervisors Tuesday tentatively approved banning stores with pharmacies from selling cigarettes.

In 2008, the city became the first in the nation to prohibit drugstores, including Walgreens and Rite Aid, from selling cigarettes.

San Francisco's public health department director says it sends the wrong message, especially to kids. Mitch Katz says drugstores should be selling healthy items because people go there to buy prescription drugs and other products that help them get better.

Walgreens sued, arguing the ban was unconstitutional because it singled out drugstores while allowing supermarkets and other stores with pharmacies to continue selling cigarettes. The California Court of Appeals agreed.

The new legislation, sponsored by Supervisor Eric Mar, is designed to close that loophole by extending the ban to formerly exempted stores.

If approved at a final reading next week, Tuesday's vote closes the loophole.