Worcester, Mass., to Ban Blunt Wrap Sales

Blunt wrap tobacco industry drops federal challenge

WORCESTER, Mass. -- Blunt wraps, a thick cigarette-like rolling paper usually made from tobacco leaves, are about to be banned in Worcester, Mass. -- following a decision by companies who make the wraps to drop a federal court challenge.

As previously reported by Tobacco E-New, National Tobacco Company and New Image Global Inc. filed a lawsuit against the city in June, seeking to overturn the ban, claiming violation of the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution – which guarantees equal protection under the law.

In the complaint, the companies stated that the Worcester ordinance allowed many tobacco products to continue to be sold, while arbitrarily banning the sale of legal cigar wrappers -- resulting in unequal treatment of legal tobacco products.

According to the Telegram & Gazett, Worcester City Solicitor David M. Moore said the blunt wrap companies decided to dismiss their case in light of the state Supreme Judicial Court's refusal to hear their appeal of a court decision that upheld a blunt wrap sales ban in Boston, as well as comments and questions made by the federal judge at the Nov. 9 hearing on their challenge to the Worcester ordinance.

According to the Worcester's tobacco control ordinance, blunt wraps "are frequently marketed and sold to the youth and are also known to be used as drug paraphernalia." And Moore said the city blunt wrap sales ban was modeled after the similar ban adopted by the Boston Public Health Commission in 2008, adding that the Boston ban was upheld by Suffolk Superior Court and, on appeal, by the state Appeals Court. On Dec. 1, he added, the state Supreme Judicial Court did not grant a further appeal, leaving the Appeals Court decision in effect.

The city agreed in court to stay enforcement of the blunt wrap sales ban until after the court ruled on the legality of the Worcester ordinance, according to Moore.

He said the blunt wrap sales ban will take effect 30 days after the federal court accepts the companies' request for dismissal.

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