New York City teenagers will still be able to see cigarettes in stores, but they may not be able to smoke them anymore.
Mayor Michael Bloomberg dropped a provision from his anti-tobacco legislation that would have forbade store owners from visibly displaying cigarettes anywhere on their premises, The New York Post reported Monday. Cigarettes would still have been available for purchase, but merchants would have to fetch them from a hidden area by customer request only.
Bloomberg's office decided to scrap the measure in a compromise with City Council members, and after heavy lobbying from the tobacco industry-backed Save Our Store Coalition, who argued the bill would hurt business and cost jobs. E-cigarette advocates were also opposed to Bloomberg's idea.
In a joint email to the New York Times, Jean Weinberg, a spokeswomen for the health department, and Zoe Tobin, a spokeswoman for the City Council, said, “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.”
This provision was drafted in the hope that if the merchandise is out of sight it would not be as tempting, especially to teens. While, this was a key part of the legislation, the more pressing issue is the potential increase of the smoking age from 18 to 21. The bill would also prohibit discounted tobacco products, raising the minimum price for all cigarette packs to $10.50.
City Council is expected to pass the bill next week. If passed, New York will be the first city in the country to raise the smoking age.