N.Y. State Faces Tobacco-Coupon Ban

Lawmakers move to nix discounts on most products in category

ALBANY, N. Y. -- Just when convenience retailers can finally take advantage of coupons with the emerging help of digital and mobile technology, lawmakers in New York could virtually end such practices statewide before any headway even begins—at least when it comes to tobacco.

Under a proposal moving through the state Senate and Assembly, a pair of New York lawmakers hope to ban coupons and other discounts for tobacco products, including cigarettes, cigars, e-cigarettes and most other types of tobacco.

Sen. David Carlucci (D-Clarkstown) and Assemblywoman Shelley Mayer, (D-Yonkers) said coupons and discounts sidestep the state’s $4.35-per-pack tax, which has helped deter smoking among their constituents. Mayer told a USA Today subsidiary that coupons and discounts are a “way for big tobacco companies to get around the high prices of cigarettes.”

If the measure passes, retailers violating the ban could face a $1,000 fine for a first offense, $2,000 for a second and $5,000 for a third.

New York City has a similar cigarette-coupon ban that took effect in 2014, withstanding a legal challenge from cigarette manufacturers and c-store owners who claimed the ban violated their First Amendment rights.

Mayer and Carlucci first introduced their statewide bill last year, but it died in committee, according to the Democrat & Chronicle. The lawmakers reintroduced the bill this year, and it currently sits in the Senate and Assembly health committees.

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