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justice

Providence wins case against tobacco industry

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PROVIDENCE – In what the city of Providence is called “a case with national significance,” Chief Judge Mary Lisi of U.S. District Court in Rhode Island ruled to uphold the city’s laws banning the sale of tobacco products aimed at children.

Earlier in 2012, Mayor Angel Taveras and the Providence City Council passed two ordinances banning the sale of tobacco products aimed at children, including fruit- and candy-flavored, non-cigarette tobacco products, as well as banning tobacco pricing and promotional strategies. The tobacco industry sued the city to prevent the laws from taking effect.

In prepared remarks, Taveras called the ruling a “clear and decisive victory in the effort to keep children from using and becoming addicted to tobacco.”

“While we expect an appeal from big tobacco, this is an important step toward a healthier city,” said Taveras. “I hope today’s ruling inspires other communities to follow our lead and take a stand against big tobacco.”

According to a release from the mayor’s office, tobacco use is a major public health threat to the children of Providence, with nearly one in four Providence public school youth using tobacco products by the time they are seniors in high school. The release went on to say that 23,000 Rhode Island children under the age of 18 may die prematurely from a smoking-related illness.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration banned flavored cigarettes in 2009, but non-cigarette flavored tobacco products such as cigars, cigarillos and dissolvable products in various fruity flavors are increasingly popular with the country’s youth due to their “sweet taste and cheap price tag,” said the release.

“Today we celebrate yet another step forward in our work to protect our children and our community. We stand united against the tobacco industry’s deceitful tactics and targeting of children as new consumers,” City Council Majority Leader Seth Yurdin said in a statement.

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