Cigarettes were cheap(er) in 2009 (Getty Images)
Back in August, the Bloomberg administration angered e-cigarette users and their advocates after we reportedthat a de facto ban of the controversial product was being worked into pending tobacco legislation. Though it may not contain the e-cigarette restrictions, the legislation appears to have been stripped of its biggest component: A ban on the display of cigarettes and tobacco products.
The Post reports that the display ban, which would have forced retailers to keep cigarettes "in cabinets, drawers, under the counter, behind a curtain or in any other concealed location," was retracted by the administration after negotiations with City Council.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, merely looking at cigarettes causes smokers and ex-smokers alike to buy them, and displays are one of the crucial means tobacco companies have to transmit information about their products (color coding works).
New York would have been the first city in the country to make retailers hide cigarettes.
The other components of the legislation would raise the smoking age to 21, create a price floor of $10.50 for a pack of cigarettes, ban cigarette coupons, and increase the penalties for those selling illegal cigarettes.
At a City Council hearing in March [PDF], numerous vendor advocates spoke disparagingly of the display ban. Jay Peltz, a spokesman for the Food Industry Alliance, called the move "unconstitutional," and said that displaying cigarettes for sale is "core commercial speech protected by the First Amendment."