Thursday, August 12, 2010

San Francisco Lawmakers are More Interested in Regulating the Mission of Stores and Feeling Good About Themselves than Protecting the Public's Health

After its ban on tobacco sales in pharmacies was struck down by the courts because there was no rational basis to exclude pharmacies in supermarkets and box stores from the ban, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors is now considering extending the ban to all pharmacies. The purpose of the ban, according to one Supervisor, is to ensure that pharmacies sell healthy products, not products that harm people.

An article in the San Francisco Examiner explains the rationale: “Cigarettes and chewing tobacco are a tiny fraction of the products sold, and pharmacies should be selling medicine and helpful items, not items like cigarettes that kill you,” said Supervisor Eric Mar, who introduced legislation Tuesday that broadens the tobacco ban. “It sends the strong message that we are a city that promotes healthy living and stores should sell products with some accountability to the public.”

ADDENDUM: I should also point out that the rationale for this ordinance is flawed on its face because the premise that stores selling helpful products shouldn't sell deadly products would lead to the conclusion that no store should sell tobacco. All stores sell products that are helpful in some way. Why should a gas station, which sells a very helpful product - gas - be allowed to sell a product that kills people? Why should a convenience store, which sells many helpful products - like toothpaste, mouthwash, sunscreen (which prevents skin cancer), and aspirin - be allowed to sell a product that kills people? How can the Board of Supervisors possibly rationalize allowing any stores in San Francisco to sell a product which kills people?

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