Green to Yellow

Ever been cruising along in your car and then all of a sudden the green light turns yellow and you can’t decide if you are going to make it or not?  You go through that whole “Slam on the brakes!  No wait, hit the gas and make the light.  Not enough time, slam on the brakes!” thought process in your head.  This is kind of like that.

If you recall, the Center for Tobacco Policy & Organizing and the Technical Assistance Legal Center (TALC) joined forces for a webinar last October that detailed the new law giving the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) the authority to regulate tobacco products.  The webinar introduced the concept of green, yellow and red light local policies based on the level of legal concerns for new policies that were now possible for local jurisdictions to adopt.  And we created a document, titled After the FDA Tobacco Law: Which Policies are Legal to Pursue?, that details the different stop light colors for each policy. 

TALC recently updated that document and a new version is available on both the Center’s website at and TALC’s website at  Two of the policies that were designated as green light policies in the webinar—keeping tobacco in opaque containers in stores and banning the sale of flavored tobacco—have been re-categorized as yellow light policies due to changes in the legal landscape.

Communities don’t have to hit the brakes for yellow light policies, but they need to be aware of the legal concerns, consult with TALC  and utilize all the available resources when drafting an ordinance to ensure that it is as well written as possible and could withstand a potential legal challenge.

–Justin Garrett

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