New Bloomberg anti-smoking law pushes to hide cigarettes

Mayor Michael Bloomberg
Mayor Michael Bloomberg proposed the legislation in part to curb smoking among young adults. Credit: NYC Mayor’s Office

A new anti-smoking law proposed by the mayor would require vendors keep cigarettes in “concealed locations.”

Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s policy states that, unless in the process of restocking or a transaction, sellers must keep tobacco products in cabinets, drawers, under the counter or behind a curtain.

Stores would still be allowed to advertise or display product and price information.

The Sensible Tobacco Enforcement bill was motivated by studies that indicate that youth exposed to cigarette displays are more likely to start smoking and become addicted.

New York City would be the first in the nation to employ such a policy, but similar prohibitions implemented in Iceland in 2001 and Canada in 2005 have reportedly already been associated with “substantial declines” in youth smoking.

The bill is also intended to cut down on discounted and smuggled cigarettes. The city touted the proposal as something that “would help honest retailers compete.”

It would establish a minimum price at $10.50 per pack and applies to both cigarettes and little cigars.

It also would impose packing requirements on cheap cigars and cigarillos, mandating that they be sold in packages of at least four, and little cigars in packages of at least 20. Cigars that cost more than $3 are exempt.

The Department of FInance has the authority to close stores that violate the law.

Cigarettes are more expensive in New York City than anywhere else in the country due to federal, state and local taxes. An estimated $250 million to $600 million is lost annually in unpaid taxes from cigarette trafficking in the city.

Smoking in NYC by the numbers

  • In 2011, 28,000 NYC public high school students tried smoking for the first time
  • 19,000 NYC public high school students under the age of 18 smoked
  • Seeing tobacco product displays frequently makes youth 2.5 more likely to start smoking
  • A March 2013 Vital Signs report from the Health Department found that 80 percent of NYC tobacco retailers have the majority of the area behind the check counter devoted to tobacco displays
  • That stat jumps to 86 percent in “high-risk neighborhoods,” compared to 79 percent in other areas
  • 59 percent of New York City residents, including 41 percent of smokers, favor keeping tobacco products out of sight

Follow Danielle Tcholakian on Twitter @danielleiat



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