Tobacco

San Francisco May Damn-Near Outlaw Smoking

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Two new proposals on the table in San Francisco:

Smokers would find it harder to buy their cigarettes and light up in public under two proposals under consideration by the San Francisco Board of Supervisors.

Mayor Gavin Newsom has proposed prohibiting tobacco sales in pharmacies, including Walgreens and Rite Aid. The city's public health chief said the proposal is modeled after rules in eight provinces in Canada but has not been tried anywhere in the United States.

Supervisor Chris Daly has proposed legislation that would vastly limit areas where people can smoke.

Gone would be smoking in all businesses and bars, which now make an exception for owner-operated ones.

Gone too would be lighting up in taxicabs and rental cars, city-owned vehicles, farmers' markets, common areas of apartment buildings, tourist hotels, tobacco shops, charity bingo games, unenclosed dining areas, waiting areas such as lines at an ATM or movie theater, and anywhere within 20 feet of entrances to private, nonresidential buildings.

Mitch Katz, director of the Department of Public Health, said he strongly supports both measures—even if they are angering business owners who say it's one more example of San Francisco City Hall overstepping its bounds.

"Tobacco remains the No. 1 cause of preventable death in the U.S.—period," he said. "It's government's responsibility to protect people from obvious risks."