Northern District federal Judge Claudia Wilken denied tobacco giant Philip Morris’ effort yesterday to halt San Francisco’s ban on pharmacies selling cigarettes. Her ruling, denying a preliminary injunction, was another court victory for the city’s ban, which went into effect Oct. 1.
San Francisco Superior Court Judge Peter Busch has already put a stop to a similar effort by Walgreens, which argued in September that it stood to lose $9 million annually under the prohibition. Both Philip Morris and Walgreens had unsuccessfully sought preliminary injunctions to halt the ordinance, which was signed into law in August.
Philip Morris has argued that First Amendment law protects its efforts to sell cigarettes and other tobacco products in pharmacies. Deputy City Attorney Vince Chhabria has countered that the ordinance doesn’t restrict advertising, and that Philip Morris is free to do so, but just can’t offer its products for sale.
— Evan Hill