NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — Less than a week after his latest health crusade to block the sale of large sugary drinks was halted by a judge, Mayor Michael Bloomberg has again focused his attention on smoking.
Under a new proposal announced Monday by Bloomberg, New York City retailers would be required to keep tobacco products out of sight in an effort to further reduce the youth smoking rate.
The first bill — the Tobacco Product Display Restriction Bill — would make the city the first in the nation to keep tobacco products out of sight in retail stores except during a purchase by an adult consumer or during restocking.
Tobacco products would be required to be kept in cabinets, drawers, under the counter, behind a curtain or in any other concealed location.
“We know that out of sight doesn’t always mean out of mind, but in many cases it can. And we think this measure will help reduce impulse purchases. And if it does, it will literally save lives,” Bloomberg told reporters, including WCBS 880’s Rich Lamb on Monday. “This is a big thing, make no mistake. The primary purpose is to keep young people from getting hooked on a habit that is likely to ruin their health or even end their lives at an early age.”
Bloomberg said similar prohibitions on displays have been enacted in other countries, including Iceland, Canada, England and Ireland.
“Such displays suggest that smoking is a normal activity,” Bloomberg said. “And they invite young people to experiment with tobacco.”
Stores devoted primarily to the sale of tobacco products would be exempt from the display ban.
The mayor’s office said retail stores could still advertise tobacco products under the legislation.
“New York City has dramatically lowered our smoking rate, but even one new smoker is one too many , especially when it’s a young person,” Bloomberg said. “Young people are targets of marketing and the availability of cigarettes and this legislation will help prevent another generation from the ill health and shorter life expectancy that comes with smoking.”
Kids under the age of 18 who are exposed to cigarette displays are two and a half times more likely to try smoking than kids who have less exposure, according to a release from the mayor’s office.
The legislation, to be introduced in the City Council on Wednesday, is comprised of two separate bills.
The second, called the “Sensible Tobacco Enforcement” bill, strengthens enforcement of discounted and smuggled cigarettes. It would prohibit the sale of discounted tobacco products, impose packaging requirements on cheap cigars and create a price floor for cigarette packs and small cigars. The city would have the authority to seal premises where there are repeat violations.