State Update

New York Continues to Focus on Tobacco Regulations

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At the request of Mayor Michael Bloomberg (I-NY), legislation has been introduced to further reduce smoking in New York City. According to Mayor Bloomberg, the bill, called The Tobacco Product Display Restriction Bill, prohibits the display of tobacco products to protect children from the marketing of cigarettes through their display at retail counters. Specifically, the bill would require that tobacco products be stored out of public view, except during a purchase by an adult consumer or restocking.

According to Dr. Thomas Farley, Commissioner of the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, “New York City’s comprehensive smoking prevention program has led to a decrease in the smoking rate in adults from 21.5% in 2002 to 14.8% in 2011. However, smoking remains the leading preventable cause of death in New Yorkers, killing thousands per year, and youth smoking rates have remained flat at 8.5% since 2007.”

In addition, seven members of the New York City Council have co-sponsored an amendment increasing the tobacco purchase age from 18 to 21 years of age, with the goal of reducing smoking and tobacco use by 18 to 20 year olds, and increasing the likelihood that people in this cohort will not become smokers later in life. The amendment was added to legislation previously introduced in 2010, which attempted to increase the purchase age to 19 years of age, but the bill failed to pass out of the Committee on Health.

On May 2, the New York City Council Committee on Health held a hearing on the bills and accepted testimony, however, no vote was taken.

With regard to state legislation, Senator Diane J. Savino (D, IP, WF-NY) has introduced S.B. 4863. The proposed bill increases the tobacco purchase age from 18 to 21 years of age in the state of New York. On May 1, Assemblywoman Linda Rosenthal (D-NY) introduced similar legislation in the New York State Assembly, A.B. 7105. The bill has five co-sponsors. Both bills have been referred to committee.