San Francisco is the first city in the country to have this ordinance, which passed in October.
Deputy City Attorney Vince Chhabria said the Director of Public Health testified to the Ninth Circuit, claiming that stores with pharmacies should not be in the same business as tobacco products. A store containing both products sends young adults a mixed message.
Chhabria said the ordinance affects 60 drugstores in San Francisco.
The largest tobacco company in the United States, Phillip Morris USA Inc, argued that removing cigarettes and other tobacco products from drugstores violates First Amendment rights.
Deputy Press Secretary Jack Song said that City Attorney Dennis Herrera stated, “I am pleased that the Court rejected Philip Morris’ attempt to use the First Amendment as a profit-making tool.”
Although the ban will force tobacco advertisements to be removed from any store that has a pharmacy, excluding big-box stores, the court ruled the ordinance does not take away the right of free expression.
Jack Marshall of Altria Client Services, speaking on behalf of Philip Morris USA said,
“While disappointed with yesterday’s decision, we continue to believe that the purpose and effect of the ordinance is to suppress communications directed to adult smokers, in violation of our constitutional rights.”
Chhabria said Boston has a similar ordinance in place, and has heard Marin County may be following in San Francisco’s footsteps.
“They have litigated this aggressively. I expect they (Phiiilp Morris) will appeal this to the Supreme Court,” Chhabria said.
Louis Dettore can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org