First, they came for the cigarettes and I said nothing because, at the time, I was trying to quit smoking. Next, they came for the plastic bags and I said nothing because I had a closet full of canvas tote bags that I needed a reason to use. Now they’ve come for the booze and I really don’t want to have to make separate trips to buy beer and toothpaste.
The CVS pharmacy scheduled to move into a space on Clement Street has applied for a liquor license–and that’s irking Supervisor John Avalos. While the district Avalos represents (which includes the Outer Mission, Excelsior and Ingleside neighborhoods) is nowhere near the pharmacy’s Outer Richmond location, the progressive politician is running for mayor and has no problem putting all of San Francisco under his purview.
Avalos is even floating the idea of a citywide ban on selling alcohol (booze, not rubbing) at the city’s multitude of chain pharmacies.
Avalos’s objections are twofold. First, there’s the moral issue that pharmacies, a place where people go for things that make them healthy (such as these nutritious milk chocolate-topped butter cookies) shouldn’t also be selling things that make them sick.
This was largely the not-in-any-way-completely-asinine logic behind the 2008 ban on pharmacy cigarette sales. The second reason is a protectionist measure to shield small, locally-owned liquor stores from the competition brought by big box pharmacies.
Avalos has long opposed the the combination of pharmacies and booze. When Walgreens approached the city about starting to sell alcohol at half of its 64 San Francisco locations last year, Avalos led the charge in opposition.
“This gives [Walgreens an] unfair advantage in the market place,” said Avalos at a Board of Supervisors meeting. “We want to make sure that we have an even playing field for small mom-and-pop stores.”
While Avalos was unsuccessful in his efforts to implement a ban to preempt Walgreens’ alcohol sale, the company currently only sells alcohol in a small handful of its San Francisco locations.
Despite Avalos’ protestations, a local committee has approved the store’s liquor license, although they’ve added a whole host of conditions under which the store has to operate–a move largely supported by the community immediately surrounding the store.
Concerns over the selling of booze at pharmacies isn’t solely a San Francisco debate, there have been fights over the issue across the country for decades. The Chicago suburb of Mokena considered a ban in 2004, but San Francisco seems to be the biggest metropolitan area even toying with a blanket ban.
Similarly, alcohol was likely involved in the recent case of a Florida man caught on security camera last Thursday urinating on 100 packets of cough drops.
Maybe Avalos is simply trying to ensure that of all our cough drops are sanitary. Although, that could explain why pharmacies have started locking up all the good deodorants and shampoos–the noble desire to shield our hygiene products from pee.