Newsom Wants Butts Out Of Pharmacies
POSTED on KTVU.com: 10:09 pm PDT May 2, 2008
SAN FRANCISCO -- San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom wants to make it harder for smokers to buy cigarettes.
In his effort to make San Francisco a healthy city, Newsom is proposing legislation to ban pharmacies from selling
cigarettes and other tobacco products, including pipes.
The owner of Reliable Pharmacy in the Sunset District has been selling cigarettes for 35 years. Owner Sam
Ching said he plans to stop sales whether the legislation passes or not.
But another pharmacy owner in the Fillmore District opposes Newsom's plan. He points out that cigarette smokers
purchase more than just tobacco. Nick Shoman of Charlie's Pharmacy put it this way: "That is where it is going to
hurt. That will effect my business. And if this does pass maybe the mayor can find one of my unemployed workers
The city's Health Department says people need to look at the bigger picture. Dr. Rajiv Bhatia says: "Pharmacies
have a special responsibilty not to be selling products that are harmful. Certainly not profitting from the sale of
products that are harmful."
Under the proposed legislation, pharmacies that get caught selling tobacco products could faces fine between
$100 and $1000.
Dear Editor: The US stands pretty much alone in the world in allowing pharmacy chains to sell tobacco. While
only 15% of independent pharmacies in San Francisco currently sell cigarettes, 75 out of 76 of the chain
locations sell and advertise the stuff.
To me, it's just another example of tobacco interests in bed with the out-of-town corporations: Rite Aid,
Walgreens, Safeway and Costco.
These chains laugh all the way to the bank while our families suffer and die. Who out there hasn't lost someone
to tobacco-related heart disease, stroke, cancer or lung disease?
For a list of independent pharmacies in San Francisco that do not sell tobacco products, go to
Bob Gordon, San Francisco
California LGBT Tobacco Education Partnership
Ban on tobacco at drug stores sought
- Marisa Lagos
Saturday, May 3, 2008 in the SF Chronicle
The sale of cigarettes and other tobacco products at drug stores would be illegal in San Francisco if an ordinance
introduced this week by Mayor Gavin Newsom wins approval.
The proposed law is designed to curb tobacco sales at stores where pharmacists work, but would not apply to big
box businesses such as Costco or to grocery stores. The ordinance is just one of a series of measures supported by
the mayor intended to promote healthy living among San Francisco residents, said Newsom spokeswoman Giselle
"The spirit of this is that pharmacies are places people go to get better," she said. "They shouldn't be selling
products that cause cancer."
The legislation, introduced Tuesday, would take effect on Oct. 1 if the Board of Supervisors approves it. The
Department of Public Health, which already regulates tobacco sales in San Francisco, would enforce the law.
Violators would face fines of $100 to $1,000.
Retail chains starting to put out smokes
By Wendy Koch, USA TODAY
Cigarettes are getting harder to find. More retail chains are dropping them, and for the first time, officials in a few
states want to ban pharmacies from selling them.
This month, San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom proposed an unprecedented city ban on drugstores selling
tobacco products, including cigars, pipes and smokeless tobacco.
"This will be the beginning of a national movement," Newson predicts. He says he's "absolutely confident" the San
Francisco Board of Supervisors will approve the ban this month or early in June. It would take effect Oct. 1.
Others are on the same track. Bills are pending in New Hampshire, Illinois and Tennessee to bar pharmacies with
walk-in clinics from selling tobacco, and a bill in New York would apply to all pharmacies, including those in big stores
such as Wal-Mart.
"Pharmacies are places we go to get healthy," says Assemblyman Sam Hoyt, author of the New York proposal. "It just
seems inappropriate that on the other hand, they sell something that kills." His state borders Canada, where most
provinces don't let pharmacies sell tobacco.
Most independent pharmacies in the USA no longer sell tobacco, but the drugstore market is dominated by big
chains such as Walgreens, CVS and Rite Aid that do. Target stopped selling tobacco products in 1996.
Bill Phelps, spokesman for Philip Morris USA, the nation's No. 1 cigarette maker, says the government should not
impose bans. "We think retailers should be able to decide," he says.
More retailers are deciding not to sell tobacco products. A wave of grocery stores, some with pharmacies and some
without, have taken tobacco off their shelves. Wegmans, which has 70 stores in five states, did so in February, the
same month as two smaller New York-based chains, Budwey's and DeCicco Family Markets. San Francisco-based
Andronico's also quit in February, and some ShopRites followed in March.
"We're seeing a real trend in which fewer and fewer stores want to be associated with the harm caused by
cigarettes," says Matt Myers, president of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids. As fewer stores sell cigarettes, he
says, "the cultural norm becomes not smoking."
That doesn't necessarily happen, says Gary Nolan, national spokesman for Citizens Freedom Alliance, a group that
defends smokers rights and the free market.
Smokers won't stop but will be driven to a black market run by smugglers, he says.
Wegmans found cigarettes profitable and expected negative reaction from customers when it dropped them,
spokeswoman Jo Natale says. She says there were a few complaints but far more support.