A proposed Utah bill banning the sale of flavored tobacco products and novelty nicotine candies could lead to a lawsuit. A similar ban passed in New York City is being contested by several subsidiaries of Altria. Spokesman David Sutton says the lawsuit against the ban passed in the Big Apple argues regulating tobacco flavors is the purview of the federal government.
“The Food and Drug Administration has overall authority for tobacco product regulation in the United States,” Sutton says. “And we think very distinctly that any additional regulation of tobacco product flavor varieties should occur only at the federal level.”
The FDA banned the sale of flavored cigarettes last fall, but exempted menthols. Sutton says states and cities can’t weigh in on flavored tobacco, since the federal government already has.
Sutton says bans on flavors are unfair to adults. And he says bans aren’t as effective as responsible marketing and retailing, such as displaying these products behind the counter and ensuring stores aren’t selling to minors.
“The bottom line with this,” Sutton says, “is that the prohibition of all tobacco products with characterizing flavors other than tobacco is simply not the most effective method of addressing underage tobacco use.”
Sutton says a judge rejected a request to halt the New York City ban, and a hearing for the case is expected shortly. Maine and New Jersey have also passed similar bans.
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