A legal assault against the city’s upcoming ban on flavored smokeless tobacco got chewed up in court.
Manhattan federal Judge Colleen McMahon refused to block the law — slated to go into effect in April — on grounds that local governments can regulate tobacco products not covered by federal law.
“Congress expressed a clear and unmistakable preference for limiting the federal government’s role to setting a floor below which no local sales regulations could go, while remaining sensitive to differing sensibilities about the use of tobacco products in different parts of the country,” she wrote.
The city law, signed by Mayor Bloomberg last year, bars the sale of flavored cigars and smokeless tobacco except in tobacco bars. Flavored cigarettes, other than menthol, are already banned by the federal government.
City officials hailed the ruling, saying it would help keep kids from experimenting with tobacco made to taste like candy, fruit or spice.
“Our law is a good progressive law that will protect our youngest New Yorkers. If tobacco companies think they can fight common-sense legislation, this court decision clearly shows otherwise,” City CouncilSpeaker Christine Quinn said.
A spokesman for cigarette maker Altria, which also manufactures several brands of smokeless tobacco, said the company would keep up its court fight.
“We continue to believe that the City lacks the authority to adopt this ordinance because it imposes product standards that are different from or in addition to those imposed by (federal law),” spokesman John Marshall said. “The City should allow the FDA to consider these issues in due course in the context of a regulatory process that allows for public comment and agency consideration of scientific evidence.”
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