NYC Drops Proposed Cigarette Display Ban

By Nicholas Zifcak, Epoch Times
October 28, 2013 Updated: October 28, 2013

NEW YORK—The city is no longer pursuing a bill that would have banned the display of cigarettes in retail stores.

The ban would have made stores keep cigarettes “in cabinets, drawers, under the counter, behind a curtain, or in any other concealed location,” according to the New York Post, which first reported the change over the weekend.

Disputes over the regulation and sale of electronic cigarettes complicated the proposal to ban the display of cigarettes.

“We are pleased that the Tobacco 21 and tobacco enforcement bills are moving forward. While it is clear that the display of tobacco products encourages youth smoking, with the arrival of e-cigarettes, more time is needed to determine how best to address this problem,” the Health Department said in a statement by email.

Retailers and the tobacco industry objected to the display ban during a City Council hearing in May.

“When we had a hearing there was a great deal of concern from the retail industry,” said Health Committee Chair Maria del Carmen Arroyo.

Arroyo called the legislation a joint effort of the administration and City Council members. She said the administration was responsible for striking the display ban.

The ban was intended to help those trying to quit smoking by reducing impulse buys, and as a way to keep tobacco marketing away from children. The administration removed the language banning the display of cigarettes after negotiations with City Council.

Save Our Stores NYC, a group of small grocers funded by the tobacco industry, convenience stores, bodegas, and newsstands, also objected to the display ban.

“Adults have the right to be able to see the product they want to buy and redeem a coupon for it—even if it’s a tobacco product. Instead of imposing further restrictions on local businesses, Mayor Bloomberg should be working to help them,” the group’s website suggests.

The legislative package is still expected to make New York the first city to raise the legal smoking age to 21. The bill will also ban cigarette coupons and raise the minimum price per pack to $10.50.

City Council is expected to vote on the legislation as early as Wednesday.