Gas stations tobacco products

Gas station owners’ suit rejected vs Chicago over menthol cigarettes ordinance
February 18, 2018 – 09:27 am

A federal judge has struck down a challenge by a group of Chicago service station and convenience store owners to a city ordinance intended to tamp down the marketing of flavored tobacco products to school children, but which the station operators said amounted to a de facto ban on the sale of menthol cigarettes almost everywhere in Chicago.

On Monday, June 29, U.S. District Judge Matthew F. Kennelly dismissed with prejudice litigation brought against the city by the Independents Gas & Service Stations Associations and Quick Pick Food Mart over the ordinance. Approved in 2013, the rule prohibits any retailer, other than a tobacco store, located within 500 feet of any elementary, middle or high school from selling flavored tobacco products.

The ordinance had previously established a zone of 100 feet in which such sales were banned.

The plaintiff association, which is also known as I-GAS, said it represents “independent small business owners and operators of gasoline service stations holding tobacco licenses in the city of Chicago.”

Convenience store operator Quick Pick Food Mart joined the litigation later last fall, and the case was reassigned to Kennelly’s court.

The plaintiffs argued the city’s ordinance was both unconstitutional and preempted by the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act, which the plaintiffs said delegated regulation of tobacco to the federal Food and Drug Administration.

Since Chicago’s ordinance specifically addresses the sale of menthol cigarettes, I-GAS contended the ordinance exceeded the city’s authority under the federal law to regulate such products.

I-GAS also argued the ordinance would harm businesses through the lack of a grandfathering clause, which would not allow a store selling such products to continue to sell such products should a school open or expand within 500 feet of an existing store. Nor does the ordinance specify what kind of structure would be defined as a “school” for the purposes of the ordinance.

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