San Francisco prevails in Safeway cigarette lawsuit 

A lawsuit asserting a constitutional right to sell cigarettes was dismissed Friday by a federal judge, who upheld a motion by the City Attorney’s Office to have it tossed from court. The Safeway grocery store chain was fighting city legislation that prohibits tobacco sales in any store containing a pharmacy.

“Those who operate pharmacies have chosen to participate in our healthcare delivery system, and that should not include delivery of cigarettes,” City Attorney Dennis Herrera said in a press release.

According to the lawsuit, Safeway operates 15 stores in The City, with 10 of those containing pharmacies. The original pharmacy tobacco ban was enacted in 2008 and applied to businesses that operated primarily as pharmacies, with exemptions for grocery and big-box stores.

The 2008 law sparked a lawsuit against The City by Walgreen Co., which said the exceptions made for the other stores violated its equal-protection rights. That is what prompted amended legislation in October 2010 for the ban to be applied universally to all pharmacy locations.

Safeway argued in its lawsuit that the sale of tobacco products in the general merchandise areas of the stores is far enough away from the pharmacies to keep the products separate.

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Dan Schreiber

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