Where there’s smoke….there’s youth?
New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg is pushing for a new health related law to be passed with his Tobacco Product Display Restriction Bill. He’s proposing that all stores including bodegas and delis keep cigarettes and any tobacco products out of the public view. In other words, they can continue to sell such products, but they must not be out on display in the store.
The thinking behind this proposed legislation is that by keeping the smokes and other similar products out of sight, teens and young adults will not see tobacco use as a normal activity and therefore be less tempted to experiment with it. He may have good intentions of keeping the teen population healthy and away from such addictions, but would this really work?
Just because you don’t see cigarettes being publicly displayed, do you think it would result in some teens not buying smokes or being tempted to casually experiment with the substance? Will minors forget about cigarettes because they are being stashed under the store counter, behind a curtain or in a cabinet rather than out on display? Or perhaps there will be more of a psychological impact with the lack of display resulting in social taboo type of feeling when having to ask for something that is being stored away from public view?
If the law goes into effect, chances are that cigarette companies and business groups will protest and possibly file lawsuits to stop the law from being enforced (just like the mayor’s big-soda ban).
Remember, in most states, you have to be 18 to buy cigarettes and other tobacco products and can face legal consequences for violating this law.
Update: On November 19, 2013, Mayor Bloomberg signed into law a ban against selling tobacco products to anyone under the age of 21. New York City health officials reported that 80% of smokers start before turning 21. The new law also placed a minimum price on a pack of cigarettes at $10.50.
In 2014, the Food and Drug Administration launched a new effort to curb tobacco use among at-risk teens. The $115 million campaign will address a broad audience and phase into targeting specific groups including gay teens and Native Americans. They will air on social media, MTV and Teen Vogue.
Update: In a twist on help for smokers, Hawaii became the first state to raise the legal age to obtain cigarettes, including electronic cigarettes, to 21. The law went into effect January 1, 2016. On May 4, 2016, Governor Brown of California signed similar legislation. Definitely a move in the right direction.