Judge dismisses Safeway suit over SF tobacco ban

By the Associated Press | July 15, 2011 | 9:44 PM EDT

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — A federal judge has granted a motion by San Francisco officials to dismiss a lawsuit filed by grocery chain Safeway Inc. challenging a city ordinance banning tobacco sales in stores with pharmacies.

U.S. District Judge Claudia Wilken on Friday dismissed the suit filed by the Pleasanton-based company, which argued grocery stores had a constitutional right to sell cigarettes.

San Francisco City Attorney Dennis Herrera says the ordinance, passed last year, had originally contained an exemption for grocery stores and so-called big-box stores with pharmacies under the same roof.

But Herrera says after a California appellate court determined that the exemption for grocery and big box stores violated constitutional equal protection guarantees, the city's Board of Supervisors passed an amendment removing the exemption.

Safeway did not immediately return messages seeking comment.