San Francisco Judge Upholds Cigarette Surcharge

SAN FRANCISCO (CBS/AP) – A San Francisco judge has upheld the city’s 20-cent-per-pack surcharge on cigarettes.

Superior Court Judge Ronald Quidachay ruled on Monday that the additional charge was a fee and not a tax and therefore did not need to be approved by voters.

Cigarette maker Philip Morris USA and some local retailers had disputed that.

The 20-cent charge was the brainchild of former Mayor Gavin Newsom, who said it was intended to cover what it cost the city to clean up discarded cigarette butts.

KCBS’ Chris Filippi Reports:

“If there’s a fee you have to show a nexus between the litter and the cleanup costs, and that was something that we were able to demonstrate,” said City Attorney Dennis Herrera. “We submitted studies that show that tobacco products account for more than one-fifth of all litter on our streets, and the cost to the tax payer is clear because we can see it out on our streets every single day.”

Philip Morris had argued that the surcharge was not reasonably related to the city’s actual cleanup costs.

Philip Morris spokesman Steve Callahan said the company was disappointed with the ruling and considering its appellate options.

(Copyright 2011 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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