New York City Council to Vote on Tobacco Ordinances

Display ban removed from proposal

Thomas A. Briant, NATO Executive Director

Today, the New York City Council is scheduled to vote on two tobacco ordinances that would raise the legal age to purchase tobacco products, ban coupon redemption and multipack promotional pricing, and set minimum retail pack prices for cigarettes and little cigars. 

Ordinance No. 250 would prohibit retailers in New York City from selling cigarettes, tobacco products and electronic cigarettes to anyone under the age of 21. Currently, the legal age to purchase tobacco products is 18.

Ordinance No. 1021A would prohibit retailers from accepting and redeeming any coupons or other price reduction instruments on cigarettes and tobacco products. The ordinance would also outlaw any multipack discount or promotional pricing on cigarettes and tobacco products. In addition, the ordinance would set a minimum retail price of $10.50 for both a package of cigarettes and a package of little cigars, with a package defined as containing 20 cigarettes or 20 little cigars.

Originally, another proposed ordinance provision would have banned the display of cigarettes and tobacco products from the public view. This display ban would have required retailers to stock cigarettes and tobacco products in cabinets, drawers, under the counter, behind a curtain or in a back room so that the public would not see the products until a purchase was made. Since this proposed ban would violate constitutional protections that allow legal products to be advertised and displayed to the public, this display ban provision was removed from the proposed ordinances.

NATO, along with the New York Association of Convenience Stores, the New York City Bodega Association, local newsstands, and other retail-oriented groups formed the New York City “Save Our Stores” Coalition to oppose these ordinance restrictions. If the New York City adopts the ordinances, the new restrictions will take effect six months after the enactment date.