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Bloomberg: Keep Cigarettes Out of Sight, Out of Mind

Bloomberg: Keep Cigarettes Out of Sight, Out of Mind
Mayor Bloomberg has introduced two bills to further curb smoking in New York City.

Mayor Bloomberg wants retail stores to keep cigarettes out of sight and in cabinets, drawers or under the counter.

The Mayor announced the Tobacco Product Display Restriction bill Monday which would require sellers to keep tobacco products hidden, except during a purchase by an adult or restocking.

City Health Commissioner Tom Farley said the new legislation, to be taken up the City Council, is aimed at the city's younger residents.

"When teenagers go to a bodega or a corner story to buy a carton of milk, they are confronted with a display of cigarette packs behind the cash register,” Farley said. “Studies show that those have an effect. The more those kids see those cigarettes, the more they view smoking as normal and acceptable, and the more likely they are to start smoking."

According to the city, 28,000 public high school students tried smoking for the first time in 2011, and a majority of those students were under the age of 18.

If the bill passes, the city would be the first in the country to impose a display ban. Retailers would still be able to advertise tobacco products - although Farley said it would be great if they chose not to - and the ban would not affect smoke shops since minors are not allowed in those stores.

Mayor Bloomberg also introduced the “Sensible Tobacco Enforcement” bill which aims to combat illegal cigarette smuggling, costing the city $250 to $600 million dollars in lost tax revenue a year. The bill would also prohibit retailers form redeeming coupons for tobacco products. If passed by the City Council, the Department of Finance would have the authority to seal and fine premises where there are repeat violations.

The bills will be officially introduced in the council Wednesday by Council Member Maria del Carmen Arroyo, Chair of the Health Committee.