WNYC News: Health Advocates Fight Back on Smokeless Tobacco Suit

(January 12, 2010)

by Arun Venogopal

NEW YORK, NY January 12, 2010 —New York City is being sued by a tobacco giant. The U.S. Smokeless Tobacco company, whose parent company owns Philip Morris, claims New York's ban on flavored tobacco is illegal.

But the city is fighting back. Today, Council Speaker Christine Quinn stood with health advocates, who say tobacco with grape or apple martini flavors specifically targets children.

And Michael Sielback of the American Lung Association says, contrary to what the lawsuit charges, the city's ban is lawful. The bill that was passed by the council, he says, deals with flavored tobacco products like cigars and chewing tobacco.

"The city," he says, "has the right to regulate flavored tobacco. Just not flavored cigarettes. And we're glad they did it."

U.S. Tobacco's lawsuit says only the FDA can regulate tobacco products, based on an act of Congress last year.