- Associated Press - Saturday, February 8, 2014

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) - From a request from an imprisoned former mayor to be released early to the decision of CVS Caremark to phase out tobacco sales, here are five things to know in Rhode Island:

A REQUEST FOR EARLY RELEASE

The imprisoned ex-mayor of Central Falls has asked a federal judge to vacate his corruption conviction and release him after an appeals court ruled the charge to which he pleaded guilty isn’t a crime. Charles Moreau pleaded guilty to corruptly accepting a gratuity by an official receiving federal funds; he’s about halfway through a two-year sentence. In an unrelated case last year, the 1st U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said the charge isn’t a crime. Moreau’s lawyer says the conviction is invalid and he should be released.

SNUFFING OUT CIGARETTE SALES

Anti-tobacco organizations and health officials in Rhode Island praised the decision of Woonsocket-based CVS Caremark to phase out tobacco sales at its stores. Tobacco Free Rhode Island called the move a major milestone in the effort to significantly reduce the U.S. smoking rate. Health Department Director Michael Fine said reducing access to tobacco is the best way to cut smoking. He said the department wants to work with CVS Caremark to provide smoking cessation services and he hopes other retailers will follow in CVS’s footsteps.

STATE OF THE CITY

Providence Mayor Angel Taveras is preparing to give the annual State of the City address. He is scheduled to deliver the remarks Tuesday in the City Council chamber at city hall. He took office in 2011 and announced in October he was seeking the Democratic nomination for governor. In announcing his candidacy, he noted his work addressing the capital’s financial problems.

38 STUDIOS BILL TO A FINAL VOTE

The House will vote Tuesday on legislation designed to encourage out-of-court settlements in the litigation over the collapse of Curt Schilling’s video game company. Attorney Max Wistow, representing the former Economic Development Corp., says the legislation will help maximize any potential recovery from the lawsuit over 38 Studios. The agency in 2010 approved a $75 million loan guarantee for the company, which later went bankrupt. The bill is designed to shield any defendant that settles with the EDC from a lawsuit filed by a co-defendant over damages that co-defendant is found liable for.

ADDRESSING FATAL OVERDOSES

Rhode Island’s Health Department has reported an increase in accidental overdose deaths associated with the use of fentanyl, a powerful painkiller implicated in a string of fatal overdoses in the Northeast. There were 27 overdose deaths in the state in January, up from 18 in January 2013 and 15 each in January 2012 and 2011. Fentanyl has turned up in 15 of the 23 cases screened. The agency overseeing behavioral health recently issued emergency regulations to address the increase in overdose deaths. They call for wider training at behavioral health facilities on overdose treatment and prevention.

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