The US is admittedly great, but did you know this is the only country in which you can buy cigarettes at a pharmacy? Supervisor Eric Mar does, which is why he wrote legislation — which passed the full Board of Supervisors on Tuesday — that will both put San Francisco’s Safeways and Walgreens out of the cigarette-slinging business permanently and will close a legal loophole that allowed Walgreens to sue the city over said ban.
The city’s original ban on cigarettes in pharmacies included a loophole that allowed general grocery stores and “big box” retailers — of which there are admittedly not many in S.F., though we suppose the Foods Co counts — to continue selling cigarettes. It was that discrepancy that allowed Walgreen Company to successfully convince the California Court of Appeal that the city’s ban was unreasonable. The update to Mar’s legislation is written specifically to address that lawsuit, and to keep the city out of court over it.
“Cigarettes and pharmacies do not mix,” said Mar, who noted Tuesday that smokes are responsible for knocking 10 years off of his father’s life. “Pharmacies should promote healing…[for that reason] they should not sell cigarettes.”
Mar’s legislation passed the Board by a 7-3 vote, with Supervisors Sean Elsbernd, Carmen Chu and Michela Alioto-Pier voting no (Supervisor David Campos, one of Mar’s progressive buddies, was absent).
That means the legislation is invincible, or at least invulnerable to a mayoral veto… though it’s not immune to scrutiny.
“At what point does a government become Big Brother?” asked Elsbernd. “People are going to buy their cigarettes, whether they buy them at a Safeway or a liquor store. If the endgame of this is that it’s going to stop smoking, this isn’t going to do it.”