Mayor Bloomberg is once again pushing for new legislation that would ban the display of tobacco products, eliminate all tobacco product coupons and promotions, ban the sale of many individual cigars, and further increase cigarette prices.
And once again, instead of focusing on the issues that matter the most to New Yorkers, Mayor Bloomberg is pushing for excessive restrictions that will make it harder for New York City retailers to do business.
That is among the key takeaways from an informative new Website aimed at helping retailers deal with onerous tobacco restrictions. The “Save Our Stores” Coalition (www.saveourstoresnyc.com) Website says, “We do not need Mayor Bloomberg pushing another law that unfairly restricts adult buying choices. Adults have the right to be able to see the product they want to buy and redeem a coupon for it—even if it’s a tobacco product. Instead of imposing further restrictions on local businesses, Mayor Bloomberg should be working to help them.”
Using Facebook ads and on the saveourstoresnyc.com Website, the group, sponsored by tobacco giants Altria Client Services Inc. (on behalf of Philip Morris USA, U.S. Smokeless Tobacco Company and John Middleton); R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co.; Lorillard Tobacco Co.; and the National Association of Tobacco Outlets (NATO), is urging New Yorkers to tell City Council members that “we need leaders, not nannies” and that “raising taxes and implementing a ban on the display of tobacco products is a bad idea.”
Mayor Bloomberg’s latest provisions could even fuel illegal, black market sales.
At more than $12 per-pack on average, New York City’s state and local cigarette excise taxes have already sparked a black market for cigarettes. NYPD and federal agencies busted a cigarette smuggling case ring that is estimated to have cost the state an estimated $80 million in lost taxes.
Even more alarming, some of the defendants have alleged ties to Hamas, Hezbollah, and convicted terrorists. Authorities are concerned the smuggling scheme not only cost New York State millions of dollars in tax revenue, but may have raised funds for militant groups. Restrictions on coupons and deals would exacerbate the problem of illegal sales by driving even more sales away from local businesses and toward illicit vendors and smugglers.