Philip Morris Sues to Overturn Tobacco Sales Ban

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Philip Morris Sues to Overturn Tobacco Sales Ban

RICHMOND, Va. -- Philip Morris USA (PM USA) filed suit in federal court in effort to overturn a proposal in San Francisco that would ban the sale of tobacco products in convenience drug stores.

The lawsuit requests the court in the Northern District of California to delay enforcement of the ordinance and ultimately declare it unconstitutional. The ordinance is currently the subject of a separate lawsuit pending in state court, according to the company.

"Although called a ban on sales, the purpose and effect of the ordinance is to suppress communications directed to adult smokers, in violation of our constitutional rights," Joe Murillo, Altria Client Services vice president and associate general counsel, who spoke on behalf of PMUSA, said in a statement. "Likewise, the ban unfairly deprives adult consumers of the opportunity to buy tobacco products from legitimate licensed retail businesses."

PM USA supports reasonable legislation to ensure tobacco products are sold responsibly to adult consumers in face-to-face transactions with retail clerks, the company stated.

In addition, it supports strict licensing laws for tobacco sales and strict enforcement of such laws, and enforces its own policies on responsible merchandising of the tobacco category. The company deems the ordinance unfair to manufactures, retailers and consumers.

"We are asking for an expedited review of our complaint and look forward to presenting our arguments on this issue," Murillo said in a statement.