Judge Throws Out Providence Flavored Tobacco, Discount Ban Challenge

While Madison County Court denies plaintiffs' petition to reopen Price "Lights" case

PROVIDENCE, R.I. -- Philip Morris USA has suffered one legal setback and achieved one legal victory this week. A federal judge has thrown out a lawsuit brought by the tobacco industry against the Rhode Island city of Providence over city ordinances that tighten rules on selling tobacco, reported the Associated Press.

U.S. District Court Judge Mary Lisi on Monday granted the city's request to dismiss the lawsuit brought by several tobacco manufacturers and retailers, including Richmond, Va.-based PM USA and Winston-Salem, N.C.-based R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co.

The lawsuit argued that the ordinances passed earlier this year violated their constitutional right to free speech, among other complaints.

One banned stores from selling tobacco products that have fruit or candy flavors. The other barred stores from selling tobacco products at a discount.

A lawyer for Philip Morris would not comment to AP.

Mayor Angel Taveras said he expects an appeal, said the report.

(Click here for previous CSP Daily News coverage of the Providence, R.I., case.)

In a separate case, the Madison County Circuit Court has denied the plaintiffs' request to reopen the Price "Lights" case, said PM USA.

"The trial court correctly recognized that the plaintiffs could not meet their burden of proof to reopen the judgment," said Murray Garnick, Altria Client Services senior vice president and associate general counsel, speaking on behalf of PM USA. "Specifically, the plaintiffs did not show that they would have been successful before the Illinois Supreme Court."

The U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) now prohibits the use of "Lights" and other descriptors unless a manufacturer receives authorization to use the terms.

(Click here for previous CSP Daily News coverage of the Price case.)