Providence, R.I., Prevails in Anti-Tobacco Appeal

Court upholds bans on couponing, discounts, flavored sales

Angel Tavernas

Angel Tavernas

BOSTON -- An effort by the National Association of Tobacco Outlets (NATO), along with the a group of tobacco companies, to overturn Providence, R.I.'s ordinances essentially banning couponing, promotional pricing and the sale of flavored tobacco products was unsuccessful earlier this week. In a decision handed down Monday, the First Circuit Court of Appeals in Boston unanimously affirmed the validity of Providence, R.I.'s anti-tobacco laws.

As reported in a Raymond James/CSP Daily News Flash, in so doing, the court affirmed the Dec. 2012 decision of Rhode Island U.S. District Court Chief Judge Mary Lisi.

Providence Mayor Angel Taveras and the Providence City Council passed the ordinances in 2012, and the tobacco industry sued to prevent the laws from taking effect.

NATO and the tobacco companies argued that the couponing and pricing ordinances violated First Amendment protections on commercial speech and that federal law pre-empted the ordinances. The court disagreed.

Watch for an in-depth look at NATO's arguments in Tobacco E-News and CSP Daily News.

The Rhode Island Department of Health, the Tobacco Control Legal Consortium and more than 20 local and national community-based and public health organizations filed amicus briefs in support of the city's anti-tobacco ordinances.