There’s an almost laughable certainty now that any new draconian measures will first take place somewhere in California, especially when it relates to smoking.
San Francisco became the first city in all of America to ban all tobacco products in drugstores, like Walgreens. Maybe customers given the choice in front of them between Marlboro or Nicorette will opt for the more enjoyable product and this will annoy Big Pharma. However, we’re rapidly learning that all the new steps taken by Tobacco Control to appease them are never good enough; that they’re merely a stepping stone to the next piece of excessive legislature that does nothing but profit big business and criminal gangs. Smokers do not give up when new laws come into effect, they simply buy elsewhere and therefore remove money from the economy and place it into the hands of black market providers. For some reason beyond comprehension, governments and councils must see this as a good thing. So, following the usual trend, San Francisco has proposed a new bill: banning tobacco from superstores with an in-store pharmacy. To clarify that, it doesn’t mean the pharmacy section of a store, but the entire premises will be banned from selling tobacco products.
Stupid, pointless, draconian? Yes, yes and yes. But San Francisco is creating its own bigger picture here, and is aiming to become smoke-free entirely (or, to put it in blunt terms that they’re too cowardly to admit, smoker-free).
Recent legislations against tobacco includes expanding areas where smoking is not permitted throughout the city, an adjustable litter fee of 20 cents has been added to the price of each pack of cigarettes, and debates have taken place to reduce the number of permits allowing places to sell tobacco. In other words, they want less places to sell tobacco and almost nowhere to smoke it. Adding money to cigarettes for litter is absurd though; the tax on tobacco is already far beyond normal and fair, meaning smokers pay hefty sums, well into the billions, to society each and every year. This does, by the way, does help provide council support including road sweeping. Besides, if we’re going down the route of charging for things that can be dropped on the street, should packaged food suffer the same fate?
Supervisor Eric Mar, the man so out of touch he believes tobacco bans help improve health and lower smoking rates, said that
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. 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.
Actually Eric, it sends the undeniable message that you are supportive of segregating a large minority of people who contribute vast sums of money to society. By purchasing legal products. To “promote” something means you try to educate, or entice people to take up something healthier; it does not mean berate, abuse and isolate. The correct words for that are bigotry and hatred.
Not only does this measure affect smokers, it is also guaranteed to affect businesses (again). Safeway has ten stores in San Francisco with pharmacies, so the unavoidable outcome will be smokers purchasing their tobacco elsewhere and quite possibly their other shopping goods with it.
Quite rightly, the 2008 move to ban tobacco in pharmacies was met with the comments that it targets one specific type of business. Unfortunately, the City took this as an incentive to just hound other businesses, too.