- The Washington Times - Thursday, March 28, 2013

In his latest health push, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg proposed a bill that would require retailers to keep tobacco products out of sight.

It’s companion bill, however, is seeking to ban cheap cigarettes and cigarillos by setting a price floor of $10.50 a pack across the board. The bill also keeps retailers from accepting coupons offered by tobacco retailers, The New York Times reports.

The New York City health department said $10.50 was the median price of the lowest-priced packs in more than 300 city stores. That, and the prohibition on coupons or discounts, will “thwart the tobacco companies’ ability to prey on low-income and minority smokers,” Dr. Kurt Ribisl — a professor of public health at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, whose research influenced the mayor’s proposal — told The Times.

David Sutton, a spokesman for Altria, parent company of Philip Morris USA, said the administration should instead look at the illegal cigarette trade.

“Piling on additional regulations designed to get at youth access when the sales compliance rate at licensed retailers is very, very high already — we just don’t think that’s the right approach,” Mr. Sutton told The Times.

City and state taxes already add $5.85 to the cost of every pack of smokes, making it the highest in the country.

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