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Altria Tobacco Cos. Lose Fight on N.Y. Flavor Ban

NEW YORK -- Manhattan Federal Judge Colleen McMahon cut off an effort by Altria Group's to halt a ban here on flavored tobacco products, while it fights the city ordinance.

The company, which is the parent of Skoal and Copenhagen maker U.S. Smokeless Tobacco Co., sued the city claiming only the federal government can regulate the sale of tobacco products, and stated the law also blocked state and local governments from enacting their own laws governing what is in tobacco products or what kinds of products may be sold, the Richmond-Times Dispatch reported.

McMahon 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 FDA will, the report stated.

The 2009 law bars the sale of flavored cigars and chewing tobacco except in tobacco bars, according to a report by the New York Daily News. It does not cover menthol of wintergreen, but does address flavored including vanilla, chocolate, honey, candy, fruit-flavored and spiced.

"This decision ... is not only a win for the children of New York City," City Council Speaker Christine Quinn told the Daily News. "Our law is a good progressive law that will protect our youngest New Yorkers. If tobacco companies think they can fight common-sense legislation, this court decision clearly shows otherwise."

Altria spokesman John L. Marshall Jr. told the Dispatch the company still believes the ordinance is invalid because it imposes product standards that differ from federal law.

"The city should allow the FDA to consider these issues in due course in the context of a regulatory process that allows for public comment and agency consideration of scientific evidence," Marshall said.

Altria will continue to challenge the law.

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