Claiming that "we will not let our children be harmed by the tobacco industry’s deceitful tactics to attract new users," Providence's mayor and city council president praised themselves - in a letter to the editor of the New York Times - for closing a loophole in the FDA tobacco regulations which permit the sale of flavored cigars.
The FDA bans the sale of some flavored cigarettes, but this ban does not extend at all to cigars. To close part of that loophole, Providence enacted an ordinance that bans the sale of flavored cigars.
Praising themselves, the mayor and city council president wrote: "Like New York City and Maine, Providence, R.I., is fighting to protect
our children from tobacco. We took the ruling by the Food and Drug
Administration banning flavored cigarettes a step further by banning the
sale of other candy- and fruit-flavored tobacco products. Tobacco products that entice children with flavors like bubble-gum and
chocolate will no longer be sold in stores in Providence. Beyond cigars,
there are many emerging tobacco products that deceive people of all
ages with their mint and colorful candy-like packaging. Most smokers begin before they turn 18, and we will not let our children
be harmed by the tobacco industry’s deceitful tactics to attract new
users. The City of Providence is standing strong to protect the health and
wellness of our youth. Although our efforts have drawn a lawsuit from
the tobacco industry, we will not back down."
The Rest of the Story
If the city of Providence is standing strong to protect the health and wellness of its youth, then why did it not close the biggest loophole in the FDA tobacco law: the exemption of most flavored cigarettes, including those most favored by the youth of Providence, Rhode Island?
If the city of Providence is fighting to protect its children from tobacco, then why did it not choose to ban the sale of all flavored cigarettes, rather than to focus its efforts on cigars, which are far less of a long-term health problem for Providence's youth than cigarette smoking?
How can Providence continue to allow flavored cigarettes to attract, seduce, and addict the majority of its youth smokers, and at the same time, praise itself for putting an end to the tobacco industry's attempts to attract new users?
The rest of the story is that the mayor and city council president are not truly standing up to Big Tobacco. They are not truly protecting their children from tobacco. They are not truly putting an end to the tobacco industry's attracting new users.
Instead, they are taking a politically easy step that ignores the larger problem: about 50% of Providence's youth smokers are using flavored cigarettes -- namely, menthol cigarettes. And about this problem, the Mayor and City Council chose to look the other way.
Rather than close the loophole which exempted menthol cigarettes from the FDA's flavored cigarette "ban," the Providence City Council chose to look the other way, while distracting attention from its decision to ignore the problem by praising itself for getting rid of chocolate cigars.