Safeway Sues San Francisco Over Tobacco Ban

SAN FRANCISCO -- Grocery chain Safeway sued the city over a 2008 ordinance that bans the sale of tobacco products in stores that contain pharmacies, reported the San Francisco Weekly.

The ordinance originally banned tobacco sales in pharmacies. Following a lawsuit by Philip Morris claiming the law was unfair because grocery stores could still sell tobacco products even if they contained pharmacies, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors amended the ordinance to apply to all stores containing pharmacies.

Safeway's new lawsuit, filed February 18, claims the ban gives stores that don't sell prescription drugs and unfair advantage and calls the ordinance "arbitrary and capricious" and "a denial of Safeway's due process rights under the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution." It added the law's efforts "to distinguish between retail grocery stores without licensed pharmacies and those with licensed pharmacies does not in any principled way justify the unequal and prejudicial treatment afforded to retail grocery stores with pharmacies somewhere on their premises," according to documents.

City officials said the lawsuit has no merit. "We think the lawsuit is frivolous, and we believe the court will dismiss the case," said Jack song, spokesman for city attorney Dennis Herrera. Song also noted the amended ordinance was written specifically to satisfy appeals court judges. "We're doing exactly what the California Court of Appeals told us to do. They asked us to treat all stores with pharmacies the same, and that's exactly what we're doing now," said Song.


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