Providence wins important tobacco victory

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PROVIDENCE – In a case with national significance, the City of Providence has won an important victory in its fight to protect children against the harmful effects of tobacco and the deceitful tactics of the tobacco industry.

In a decision handed down today, the First Circuit Court of Appeals unanimously affirmed the validity of Providence's anti-tobacco laws.  In so doing, the Court affirmed the December 2012 decision of Rhode Island U.S. District Court Chief Judge Mary Lisi.

"This court decision is another clear and decisive victory in our efforts to keep children from using and becoming addicted to tobacco," said Mayor Angel Taveras. "I applaud the First Circuit for their well-reasoned decision affirming the legality of our anti-tobacco ordinances, and I commend City Solicitor Jeffrey Padwa and his team for their strong and successful legal defense. This is an important step toward a healthier city. I hope today's ruling inspires other communities to follow our lead and take a stand against Big Tobacco."

The First Circuit's decision is available online here:

In 2012, Mayor Taveras and the Providence City Council passed two ordinances banning the sale of flavored tobacco products and store discounts aimed at children. The tobacco industry sued to prevent the laws from taking effect.

Providence's anti-tobacco laws prevent the sale of fruit- and candy-flavored, non-cigarette tobacco products and ban tobacco pricing and promotional strategies. The City Council adopted the ordinances and Mayor Taveras signed them into law based on research that shows strong public policy and careful oversight of tobacco helps to reduce youth smoking rates.

"The Court's decision is a big win for Providence. We have been working hard to protect our children from the dangerous, addictive habit of tobacco use, and today's ruling upholding our anti-tobacco ordinances will help us build a healthier, stronger and safer city for our children," said City Council President Michael Solomon.

Although the FDA banned flavored cigarettes in 2009, non-cigarette flavored tobacco products, such as cigars, cigarillos and dissolvable products, in flavors like strawberry, peach, chocolate and blueberry are popular with youth because of their sweet taste and cheap price tag.

The Rhode Island Department of Health, the Tobacco Control Legal Consortium and more than 20 local and national community-based and public health organizations filed amicus briefs in support of the city's anti-tobacco ordinances.