New York City Takes Major Step in Restricting Tobacco Sales

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New York City Takes Major Step in Restricting Tobacco Sales
New York City Council passes law restricting tobacco sales, including e-cigarettes, aiming to reduce smoking rates among residents.

According to a report on September 6th, a major step has been taken towards restricting tobacco sales in New York. The New York City Council has passed a law that will impose restrictions on retailers selling tobacco products, including e-cigarettes.


The City Council unanimously approved a local law on September 5th, which will establish a retail licensing system for tobacco products in the city. The law will impose restrictions on the number of establishments that can operate, as well as the distance they must maintain from schools and parks.


Earlier this summer, Mayor Ben Walsh proposed a law aimed at reducing the smoking rates among city residents, especially minors. Walsh still needs to sign off on the legislation, which requires approval from the council, but prior to that, a public hearing must be held.


The new law will require nationally licensed tobacco retailers, including retailers that sell e-cigarette materials, to apply for a city permit annually. The application fee for each year is $250. Applications may be denied for various reasons, including unpaid fines, violations by the Ondonga County Health Department for selling products to minors, or previous convictions of felonies or Class A misdemeanors by the applicant.


The law also aims to restrict the growth of tobacco sales establishments by limiting the total number of licenses available in the city. Within 90 days of the law taking effect, a cap will be set on the number of national licensed retailers operating in New York. Currently, there are approximately 200 licensed tobacco retailers in the city.


After the implementation of the law's first year, the city will only issue one new tobacco retail license for every two licenses that are revoked or not renewed. Additionally, places within 750 feet of schools or parks will also be prohibited from receiving new licenses. Existing licenses will not be transferable to new owners when retailers sell their businesses, except for gas stations with convenience stores.


The licensing program will be supervised by the city's regulatory enforcement department. The first offense will result in a fine of $3,500 per day, while subsequent offenses, starting from the third violation, can incur fines of up to $10,000 per day. The enforcement department may ultimately take action to shut down non-compliant businesses.


The law faces opposition from the New York Convenience Store Association, the state's trade organization. The group's chairman, Kent Sopris, argues that the city's measures will burden law-abiding businesses with extra costs while doing little to reduce youth tobacco exposure. He claims that this is driven by illegal operating practices that have not been permitted by the country.


"Closing businesses and restricting the number of places selling tobacco products would actually fuel the proliferation of illegal tobacco and e-cigarette trade in New York. Currently, New York is the largest black market for tobacco products in the country, and this would be another blow to the already struggling small businesses," said Sopris.


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