Judge Upholds New York City Flavored Tobacco Ban

Thanks to a recent ruling by a federal judge, flavored tobacco products are once again banned in New York City.

A federal judge recently rejected a lawsuit that challenged New York City’s controversial 2009 ban that prohibits the sale of some flavored tobacco products, including cigars, chewing tobacco and pipe tobacco.

On November 15, U.S. District Judge Colleen McMahon rejected a lawsuit that claimed the flavored tobacco ban is preempted by the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act, the law that gave the Food & Drug Administration regulatory control over the U.S. tobacco industry. The suit was filed by the U.S. Smokeless Tobacco Manufacturing Company and U.S. Smokeless Tobacco Brands, both entities of Altria Group Inc.

McMahon wrote in her ruling that “the ordinance does not prevent plaintiffs from making a flavored smokeless tobacco, or from performing that fabrication in whatever way they wish—as long as they do so consistently with federal standards. It simply prohibits plaintiffs from selling those products in New York City anyplace except a tobacco bar.”

Although the Altria companies have vowed to appeal the decision, it appears the ban will indeed go into effect for a second time. In 2009, after Mayor Michael Bloomberg signed the ban into law, the lawsuit McMahon ruled upon was filed and the flavored ban was essentially delayed until the suit was settled. Retailers that originally pulled stock of flavored tobacco products were allowed to sell during the interim period.

With McMahon's rulling, however, sales of flavored tobacco products that have a taste or aroma relating to any fruit, chocolate, vanilla, honey, candy, cocoa, dessert, alcoholic beverage, herb or spice are now officially banned. (Menthol, mint or wintergreen flavors are still legal.)

“Tobacco bars,” of which there are only about a dozen left in the city, are the only venue allowed to sell flavored tobacco products.

For more on this, see the next issue of Cigar Insider.

C November 30, 2011 1:56am ET
Once again NYC is looking to lose more money while crushing freedom of choice at the same time. Bravo.

We all know the slippery slope regarding a persons perception of flavors and tastes from tobacco. I do not dare even print the tastes and aromas I get from my premium smokes as the city's Gestapo might sever my taste buds and ban more of my enjoyment.
floatdub@gmail.com November 30, 2011 3:24pm ET
So....Why is mint/menthol ok?
joel hoffman scranton, pa, usa, December 2, 2011 12:57am ET
so will blunt wraps still be sold,this is the real issue.kids arent unrolling $5 makers mark cigars ,its philles ,whiteowl, dutch masters.they sell the wraps in 2 packs now so they dont have to unroll them .bloomberg is a former smoker and doesnt want anyone else to enjoy something he no longer can.NY ers better hope he never gives up sex

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