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Should SK and Narragansett Take a Tougher Stand on Tobacco?

Providence has followed NYC's lead on trying to curb sales to young people...should South County follow suit?


In 2012 the Providence City Council followed New York City's lead and enacted two ordinances aimed at curbing tobacco use by young people. The first banned stores within the city from selling fruit- or candy-flavored non-cigarette tobacco products, while the other barred selling of tobacco products at a discount.

While the New York City rules are currently being challenged in Federal Appeals Court, a lawsuit filed by the tobacco companies against the Providence ordinances in U.S. District Court was recently dismissed. The tobacco companies based their challenge on a violation of their First Amendment right to free speech.

The judge in the case found that although the ordinances did prohibit retailers from accepting coupons or offering discounts on tobacco or from selling flavored non-cigarette tobacco products, this did not amount to an infringement any First Amendment rights. The rationale was that none of the banned practices amounted to an infringement on protected speech, specifically advertising. 

While an appeal from big tobacco is all but certain, the question remains … should South Kingstown, Narragansett or other Rhode Island municipalities follow Providence’s lead and enact similar ordinances to curb the use of tobacco by local young people? What do you think? Let us know in the comments section below.

Got any legal questions?  Feel free to contact myself and the Sayer Regan & Thayer, LLP team at AThayer@srt-law.com or (401) 849-3040.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Ted Geisel January 23, 2013 at 07:45 PM
Let them sue it out in NY and Providence. No sense in throwing money away on lawyers here too. If it holds up in court then let the town make a decision.
Govstench January 24, 2013 at 03:58 AM
Total and complete waste of time. We still have not learned from the prohobition years. Efforts should be aimed at education - we don't need to be turning ourselves into a police state!

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