Retailers sue city of San Antonio over new tobacco law
Three convenience store groups are challenging the city of San Antonio’s new law that bans retailers from selling tobacco products to young adults.
The groups — who say most of their members are of Middle Eastern and Southeast Asian descent — allege in a federal lawsuit filed Thursday that banning the sale of tobacco products to young adults 18 to 20 years old discriminates against retailers.
San Antonio is the first major Texas city to pass a Tobacco 21 law. It took effect Oct. 1.
The groups say their members and other small retailers are being “singled out” because they are the only ones subject to punishment even though the so-called “Tobacco 21” law that City Council passed in January was “purportedly enacted” to protect the health of young adults.
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Stores that violate the law can face fines of up to $500, while young adults caught purchasing, using or possessing tobacco face no penalties or enforcement measures.
“Without any enforcement provision for the (purchase, use and possession) of tobacco products by persons aged 18 to 20, (the law) is clearly biased against one class for the benefit of another,” the lawsuit states.
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The suit was filed by the Association of Convenience Store Retailers Inc., South Texas Merchants Association Cooperative Inc. and Texas Food and Fuel Association Inc.
“After preliminary review of the complaint, we stand behind our ordinance and will prepare to defend it in Federal Court,” City Attorney Andy Segovia said in an emailed statement.
Clinton Glenny II, a San Antonio attorney representing the three groups, didn’t respond to a request for comment.
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Patrick Danner is a San Antonio-based staff writer covering banking and civil courts. Read him on our free site, mySA.com, and on our subscriber site, ExpressNews.com. | firstname.lastname@example.org | Twitter: @AlamoPD