Mayor Michael Bloomberg is taking a unique approach in the war against smoking. The 71-year-old Mayor of New York has proposed two new bills that would require cigarettes to be hidden from plain view in retail stores in an attempt to reduce smoking. This would be the first law of its kind in the United States.
“These laws would protect New Yorkers, especially young and impressionable New Yorkers, from pricing, discounts and exposure to in-store displays that promote tobacco products,” Bloomberg said during a news conference on Monday. “Such displays suggest that smoking is a normal activity and they invite young people to experiment with tobacco. This is not a normal activity.”
Bloomberg, a former smoker, plans to introduce the propositions to the City Council on Wednesday. Though some retailers and tobacco companies have deemed Bloomberg’s bills as an “unnecessary burden,” the Mayor is accustomed to industry opposition based on his previous attempts to improve the health of New Yorkers by implementing bans on smoking in most offices, restaurants, bars, parks and beaches. If the propositions are passed, stores will still be allowed to advertise cigarettes and display pricing information, but the actual tobacco products would only be visible during a sale or restocking.
According to the city’s health department, the number of New Yorkers who smoke has decreased from 21.5 percent in 2002 to 14.8 percent in 2011 since Bloomberg issued a ban on smoking in public places.