(CN) – The 9th Circuit rejected Phillip Morris’ effort to block a groundbreaking San Francisco law banning tobacco sales in pharmacies.
The cigarette maker argued that the city law violated its First Amendment right to advertise.
The three-judge panel ruled unanimously that the law simply “limits where cigarettes may be sold; it doesn’t prevent plaintiff from advertising.”
In a concise three-page ruling, the court wrote: “Plaintiff’s advertising speech is protected activity. Selling cigarettes isn’t.”
The court rejected the tobacco giant’s claim that the ordinance singled out pharmacies, smokers and cigarette companies. But even if the law had that effect, the judges said, it wasn’t aimed at suppressing certain ideas.
“The censorial motive plaintiff attributes to defendants is always present when the government restricts sales of a product. That can’t be sufficient.”
The panel upheld U.S. District Judge Claudia Wilken’s denial of Phillip Morris’ motion for an injunction.
The San Francisco ordinance is the first of its kind in the United States.