Tobacco Industry Blasts Bloomberg

Ads seek to push back against anti-smoking bills in City Council

Melissa Vonder Haar, Freelance Writer

NEW YORK -- Tobacco companies are pushing back against Mayor Michael Bloomberg's efforts to restrict cigarette sales in New York City.

Through Facebook and the website, a group sponsored by R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. is urging New Yorkers to tell City Council members "we need leaders, not nannies" and that "raising taxes and implementing a ban on the display of tobacco products is a bad idea," reported The New York Daily News.

Transform Tobacco is targeting anti-smoking bills in the City Council that would bar stores from displaying tobacco products, set a minimum price for cigarettes at $10.50 a pack and fine stores for selling illegal untaxed cigarettes. Another bill would raise the smoking age in the city to 21.

Regarding New York, the website says:

Tobacco Issues in New York

Alert - New York City!

New York City's Mayor and city council are considering a ban on the display of tobacco products and increasing tobacco taxes in the city!

ACT NOW: Call the toll free NYC Hotline at 1-866-658-8327 to speak to your NYC Councilman today!

Make your opinion known by telling Mayor Bloomberg and city council that raising taxes and implementing a ban on the display of tobacco products is a bad idea.

Contact Your Councilman Today and Tell Them:

  • Higher taxes and excessive bans are not the answer
  • More restrictions could further fuel illegal tobacco sales on the black market
  • These proposals would harm NYC's small retailers, costing NYC jobs and revenue
  • Council should focus on policies that promote job growth — NOT threaten them

For more information, go to the "Save Our Stores" website at

CALL Now: 1-866-658-8327 (toll free) to speak to your NYC councilman today!

"We support the website because it brings much-needed attention to the unintended consequences of higher tobacco taxes, and certain types of burdensome regulation of tobacco products," Reynolds American Inc. spokesperson Bryan Hatchell told CSP Daily News. "For example, most people are not aware that more than 60% of the cigarettes smoked in New York are sold illegally. New York has the highest cigarette smuggling rate in the country."

He added, "Driven by higher taxes, the average price for a pack of cigarettes bought at legitimate retail stores in NYC is now $12, and many people who choose to smoke simply can't afford those prices. Instead, they purchase cigarettes that have been smuggled into the state from lower-tax states or otherwise have circumvented legitimate distribution channels. This deprives the state of tax revenue, and hurts sales and jobs at legitimate small retailers. Further, the profits made by cigarette smugglers are often used to support other criminal activities like drug trafficking and terrorism. Several pieces of legislation under consideration by the New York City Council have the potential to make that very bad situation even worse. The proposed legislation would increase cigarette smuggling, penalize legitimate small businesses and hurt jobs in the city."

Hatchell also said, "Mayor Bloomberg says he wants to protect the residents and especially the kids of NYC with these new regulations, but his efforts are misguided. Smugglers don't check IDs, and they have no problem selling cigarettes to kids. Legitimate retailers are the best line of defense in preventing the sale of tobacco products to youth, and these regulations will simply push cigarette sales away from retail outlets."