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Court Ruling on Ordinance 878

Release date: 09/21/2022
Sponsored by: Health and Human Services Department, Public Health Division

Statement on ruling against flavored tobacco ban

We are aware of Judge Erwin’s ruling that Washington County is pre-empted in enacting a local ban on the sale of flavored tobacco products. This ban was part of Ordinance 878 adopted by the Board of County Commissioners in November 2021 and ratified by the voters of Washington County as part of the primary election in May 2022. 
In enacting the ordinance, Washington County had joined nearly 350 localities nationally and five states that have passed flavor bans in an attempt to prevent teens and young people from getting addicted to nicotine by starting with vape flavors like bubble-gum, strawberry and tropical fruit fusion.  
As Washington County Tobacco Prevention Coordinator Gwyn Ashcom explains: “These kids get hooked on tobacco by starting out with a flavored product such as menthol cigarettes, or vaping flavors like bubble-gum, strawberry and tropical fruit fusion. It’s already illegal to sell tobacco products to youth, but that doesn’t stop many retailers.” 
The voter-approved ban would also have addressed important health equity issues. The tobacco industry aggressively markets to Black and Latino youth, LGBTQ youth and to low-income communities, and has been successful at getting kids in these communities to start smoking and vaping. 
We appreciate the time the Court took to examine the issues and to hear from both sides on this matter.  

We respectfully disagree with the Court’s ruling and are considering options for an appeal. In the meantime, the preliminary injunction from July 2022 will remain in effect, keeping Ordinance 878 on hold.

Media Contact:

Mary Sawyers, Public Health Communications Coordinator