Cigarettes and other tobacco products may vanish from view in retail stores in New York City if health officials in the city have their way.
A bill unveiled today (March 18) by the city's Mayor Michel Bloomberg would require tobacco products to be kept out of sight from customers, "in cabinets, drawers, under the counter, behind a curtain or in any other concealed location," except when an adult customer asks to purchase one, or when retailers need to restock the products, a statement from the city's health department says.
The bill aims to reduce youth smoking in particular. Health officials say cigarette displays in stores increase the likelihood that youth will experiment with the products.
"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," Bloomberg said in a statement.
If passed, the law would be the first of its kind in the nation. Similar bills were passed in Iceland in 2001 and Canada in 2005, which were followed by declines in youth smoking, the Bloomberg administration says.
Another proposed bill would set a limit for the minimum price of cigarettes and small cigars, and prohibit retailers from honoring coupons or discount prices for tobacco products in order to address the availability of discounted and smuggled cigarettes.
James Gennaro, a member of the New York City Council, said: "Science and experience clearly tell us that the earlier kids start smoking, the more difficult it will be for them quit. Eliminating enticing tobacco displays and low-cost cigarettes from unscrupulous vendors will yield tremendous health dividends that will compound in the future."
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