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Bodega owners push back against proposed cigarette rules

Shop owners say new laws will push people toward the black market.

(Credit: Getty Images) (Credit: Getty Images)

Putting more tobacco rules on the books will lead people toward the black market, shop owners said today.

Convenience store owners are gearing up against Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s proposals to keep cigarettes out of sight in their shops.

Shop owners in the Save Our Stores Coalition met today at a tobacco store near City Hall, saying the administration’s plans will be a stress.

The Council is scheduled to discuss bills tomorrow that propose raising the legal age to buy tobacco to 21 and limiting the visible display of cigarettes in stores.

“Our members do not need these additional tobacco product sales restrictions,” said Ramon Murphy, president of The Bodega Association of the United States.

Added Jim Calvin, president of the NY Association of Convenience Stores, “Our small stores are part of the lifeblood of our neighborhoods, and if they’re complying with the laws, there’s no reason to saddle them with the additional regulations in these proposals that could put them out of business."

Members say the group represents about 10,000 tobacco retailers and more than 56,000 employees. It includes stores like 7-Eleven franchises, union members and The Bodega Association of the United States.

Chong Sik Lee, president of the Korean-American Grocers Association of NY, suggested the city should focus instead on enforcing existing laws.

The group said the proposed changes would send more customers to illegal, black-market sellers.

“If they go out of business ... the only ones who benefit are the guys selling illegal tobacco products from out of their trunk,” Calvin said.

 
 
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