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Bill Would Limit Public Display Of Tobacco Ads

Legislation that could be discussed next year in the state Senate would further limit the public display of tobacco advertising.

Sen. Jamaal Bailey, D-Bronx, recently introduced S.6766, which would amend the state Public Health Law to prohibit public display of tobacco advertisements and smoking paraphernalia within 500 feet of schools. The legislation would make it illegal for anyone to place or maintain smoking paraphernalia or tobacco advertisements in store front windows or exterior windows or any access door anywhere 500 feet from schools. The proposed law would not apply to tobacco businesses. Those found in violation could face a fine up to $500.

The legislation would be much broader than just cigarettes. The law stipulates smoking paraphernalia to include any pipe, water pipe, hookah, rolling papers, vaporizer or other device, equipment or apparatus designed for the inhalation of tobacco or nicotine.

“It is important that we, as a state, maintain a positive health standard and image for all New Yorkers,” Bailey wrote in his legislative justification. “Tobacco use is the leading cause of lung cancer. According to the state Department of Health, each year about 6,800 men and about 6,900 women are diagnosed with lung cancer, and over 4,500 and about 4,200 women die from this disease. Thus, it is our job to work towards preventing young adults from engaging in such harmful addictions. Banning businesses, as long as they are not exclusively tobacco businesses, from advertising tobacco products and paraphernalia will be a strong step towards eliminating the draw, and subsequent risk, that cigarettes cost.”

State law already requires all tobacco products to be located within stores out of reach of customers and prohibits self-service displays. Tobacco products must also be located behind a counter or in a locked cabinet. Federal law signed by President Barack Obama in 2009 regulated the marketing of tobacco products, including banning outdoor advertising within 1,000 feet of schools and playgrounds, banning brand sponsorships of sports and entertainment events, banning free giveaways, banning free samples, limiting any outdoor and point-of-sale advertising except in adult-only facilities, to black text on white background only.

Companion legislation (A.2763) has been introduced in the state Assembly, sponsored by Assemblywoman Nathalia Fernandez, D-Bronx.

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