By Stephen Smith, Globe Staff
A Suffolk Superior Court judge ruled today that Boston has the legal authority to ban blunt wraps, tobacco-based rolling papers, from all store shelves across the city. Blunt wrap makers had sued to overturn the prohibition, arguing that city regulators were unconstitutionally picking on them.
The February ban on blunts was part of a broader regulation strengthening Boston's tobacco control ordinances, giving the city some of the nation's toughest antismoking regulations. A key rule eliminates cigarette sales in pharmacies and in stores on college campuses, but allows other retailers to continue selling tobacco products -- except for blunt wraps.
Three major blunt wrap manufacturers -- as well as their trade organization, the RYO (as in, roll your own) Cigar Association -- sued the city, complaining that their products had been unfairly singled out for a comprehensive ban.
But city health leaders contended that blunt wraps presented a particular threat to the well-being of the young because they are sold in tempting fruity flavors and used almost exclusively for smoking marijuana.
After a two-day trial, Suffolk Superior Court Judge Raymond Brassard ruled that blunts can remain forbidden in Boston stores.
The ruling, said Nakisha Skinner, general counsel for the Boston Public Health Commission, "gives local boards of health, like the Boston board, backing to enact these kinds of regulations to promote their mission and that's to protect public health in issues that they've identified as a public health threat."
Jim Brett, the attorney for the blunt wrap manufacturers, said his clients were "disappointed, naturally."
"We think the commission acted arbitrarily in banning only one tobacco product in the city, and we're disappointed that the judge didn't see it that way," said Brett, who added that the blunt makers are considering their options, including, possibly, an appeal.
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|White Coat Notes covers the latest from the health care industry, hospitals, doctors offices, labs, insurers, and the corridors of government. Chelsea Conaboy previously covered health care for The Philadelphia Inquirer. Write her at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter: @cconaboy.|
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