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Altria Loses Another Appeal of NYC Flavored-Tobacco Ban

NEW YORK -- New York City's ban on the sale of flavored smokeless tobacco products anywhere -- except in tobacco bars -- will stay in effect, thanks to a court ruling earlier today.

Altria Group Inc. had launched a bid to get the 2009 law reversed on the grounds the ordinance is pre-empted by federal law. However, in a decision handed down this morning, the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New York upheld a lower-level court ruling rejecting the arguments made by two Altria units -- U.S. Smokeless Tobacco Manufacturing and U.S. Smokeless Tobacco Brands, according to Bloomberg.

"We are disappointed with the court's decision and are considering our options," said Brian May, a spokesman for Altria.

The issue dates back to October 2009 when the New York City Council voted to ban the sale of flavored tobacco products within the city, going farther than recent federal legislation that bans the sale of flavored cigarettes and their component parts, as CSNews Online previously reported.

The city's ban restricts all flavored tobacco products, including little cigars, chewing tobacco and cigarillos, to close off loopholes through adding flavoring agents to products. Menthol-flavored tobacco products are not banned.

Altria soon filed suit blocking the ordinance, arguing that the measure imposed manufacturing standards on their products, in conflict with federal law. However, that move was turned down by U.S. District Judge Colleen McMahon. She ruled that federal law included language that does not limit the power of states or local governments to exact stricter measures than Congress did or the Food and Drug Administration will.

Altria's U.S. Smokeless Tobacco Manufacturing and U.S. Smokeless Tobacco Brands are the makers of the Copenhagen and Skoal brands of smokeless tobacco.


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