Providence, RI Ban on Discounts and Flavored Tobacco Products

July 30, 2013

The City of Providence passed new tobacco control ordinances in 2012.  These ordinances moved tobacco control forward in two different ways: 1) the “price ordinance” bans all licensed vendors of tobacco products from accepting or redeeming any coupons that result in a discounted tobacco price; and 2) the “flavor ordinance” bans the sale of any flavored tobacco products except for menthol outside of a tobacco bar.  The flavor ordinance goes beyond the federal Tobacco Control Act, which only bans flavored cigarettes.  The tobacco industry has been selling flavored smokeless tobacco and candy-like products that are not covered by the federal law.  The industry challenged both of these ordinances on various grounds, claiming that the city’s ordinance was preempted by federal law and also constituted a violation of its First Amendment rights.   ACS CAN and other public health groups filed as amici in the case to help uphold the ordinances, which have been sustained at the trial and appellate levels.