(Recasts, adds quote from SF City Attorney spokesman, changes
dateline previous CHICAGO)
SAN FRANCISCO, Sept 10 Walgreen Co WAG.N is
suing the city of San Francisco over legislation that would ban
the sale of tobacco products in pharmacies, but city officials
said Wednesday the drugstore chain faces an uphill battle in
striking down the new law.
The lawsuit, filed in state court in San Francisco on
Monday, argues the ordinance is illegal because it targets
drugstores while ignoring other retailers that have pharmacies
and sell tobacco products, including some grocery stores.
The lawsuit seeks to have the ordinance declared
unconstitutional and adopted improperly under city law and
seeks to prevent the city from enforcing the ordinance.
A spokesman for City Attorney Dennis Herrera said Walgreen
will have to prove to the court that city officials had no
basis for the controversial law.
"The basis for this is that as consumers we rely on stores
like Walgreens to provide for health care needs, not to enable
deadly habits," spokesman Matt Dorsey told Reuters. "As deadly
habits go, they don't get much worse than cigarette smoking,
which is the leading cause of preventable death."
A hearing in the case was scheduled for Sept. 30, a day
before the ordinance was to go into place, Walgreen spokesman
Michael Polzin said.
Boston, too, is currently considering a similar ordinance
over the sale of cigarettes. The city's public health
commission gave preliminary approval last week to regulations
banning tobacco sales on college campuses and at drugstores.
(Reporting by Brad Dorfman, additional reporting by Jim
Christie in San Francisco; Editing by Andre Grenon)