Walgreens sues to repeal tobacco sale ban in San Francisco

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Retail chain Walgreens filed a lawsuit Monday in California Superior Court seeking an injunction and the repeal of an ordinance that prohibits the sale of tobacco at pharmacies in San Francisco. Walgreens argues that the ban is unconstitutional because it does not apply to grocery stores and large retailers such as Wal-Mart, which have pharmacies. San Francisco, which last month became the first US city to adopt such a ban, defends the ordinance as appropriate because pharmacies should provide for health care needs rather than enable harmful habits. A preliminary hearing on the injunction is scheduled for September 30, one day before the ordinance is to take effect.

Among other recent US developments related to tobacco, the US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit in April overturned certification of a class action brought by "light" cigarette smokers against cigarette manufacturers. The lawsuit alleged that tobacco companies used deceptive advertising tactics to mislead smokers about growing health concerns over the risks of smoking. Also that month, the US House Energy and Commerce Committee advanced a bill that would give the Food and Drug Administration regulatory power over tobacco products. Supporters said the bill would help to inform the public of the risks of smoking and make cigarettes safer. Earlier this year, the US Supreme Court held that federal law preempts two provisions of a Maine tobacco transport law requiring special inspection of incoming tobacco packages to prevent purchases from unlicensed retailers who might sell to minors.

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