Good News from Washington

FDA_LogoAll eyes are on New York City this week as the City Council holds a public hearing on three pieces of bold tobacco control legislation that were proposed by either Mayor Bloomberg or City Council Speaker Christine Quinn. The proposals focus on tobacco product displays, pricing, and the minimum legal sale age for tobacco products.

But let’s not forget the recent good news from Washington. On April 22, the Supreme Court refused to hear an appeal by Big Tobacco against Cincinnati’s court ruling that upheld the requirement for large graphic warnings on cigarette packs, even though the court did not have any specific images for review.

The decision allows the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to move forward with developing new graphic cigarette warnings that comply with both the 2009 law and recent court rulings. The 2009 law requires graphic warnings that cover the top half of the front and back of cigarette packs and 20 percent of cigarette ads.

Studies and evidence presented to the FDA show that large, graphic warnings are most effective at informing consumers about the health risks of smoking.

The Supreme Court protected the FDA’s powers to regulate the tobacco industry.  We hope the FDA moves quickly to find court-acceptable graphic images and provides all the evidence needed to show that graphic images will reduce the number of new or current smokers.

Otherwise, tobacco will continue to addict and kill millions.

Our Northern Neighbors Listen to Their Youth

Canada, our neighbor to the north, listened to their youth and now keeps tobacco product displays out of sight in stores to reduce youth smoking. 

After display restrictions were implemented in Canada, youth smoking rates decreased and the age of smoking initiation increased.  Bravo Canada!

The Next STEP in Tobacco Control

2011-04-13_15-12-38_577Raising cigarette prices is one of the most effective ways to prevent and reduce smoking, especially among youth.  Research shows that every 10 percent increase in the real price of cigarettes reduces overall cigarette consumption by approximately three to five percent and the number of youth who smoke by six or seven percent.

New York City has the highest state-local tax on cigarettes in the country.  Youth smoking in our city declined from 17.6% in 2001 to 8.5% in 2007. But it has remained level since then. More work needs to be done to bring down youth smoking rates and prevent kids from lighting up.

The recent proposal by Mayor Bloomberg and the City Council will increase prices on tobacco products in an effort to reduce youth smoking.  A set of “Sensible Tobacco Enforcement and Pricing” (STEP) initiatives would work to stop trafficking of illegal untaxed cigarettes, restrict the use of the coupons and price discounts, and create a price floor for a pack of cigarettes.

An actual pack next to counterfeit cigarettes.

An actual pack next to counterfeit cigarettes.

The Department of Finance and the Sheriff’s office have been vigilant in their efforts to stop counterfeiting and the illegal trafficking of untaxed cigarettes. A growing body of evidence supports the connection between cigarette trafficking and organized crime because it provides large profits with lower risks than other criminal activities such as drug dealing.

Other states are not as rigorous in their pricing and tax strategies as New York State.  Near New York, Virginia is a low-taxed state.  North and South Carolina don’t require a tax stamp on cigarettes.  Stores that sell cigarettes on Native American Reservations do not charge sales tax because they are not subject to US federal or state taxes.

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Watch NEW Smoke-Free Housing Strategies in NYC

Please watch and share this presentation by the NYC Coalition and our partners at Asian Americans for Equality, the Community Service Society of New York, and the New York Public Interest Research Group (NYPIRG) as they discuss the growing trend of smoke-free housing.

“Smoke-Free Housing: A Guide for Residents of New York City” is presented by the Community Service Society of New York.

“Making Room to Breathe: A Case Study of Smoke-Free Housing in NYC” is Asian Americans for Equality’s (AAFE) case study of their experience working with tenants to make two of their residential properties smoke-free.

Finally, NYPIRG presents how to integrate the new materials into new and existing programs.

Out of Sight and Out of Mind

Mayor Bloomberg, NYC Health Commissioner Farley, and Deidre Sully of the NYC Coalition at the Mayor's press conference

Mayor Bloomberg, NYC Health Commissioner Farley, and Deidre Sully of the NYC Coalition at the Mayor’s press conference

On March 18, 2013, Mayor Bloomberg and the New York City Council announced new legislation that would make New York City the first in the nation to keep tobacco products out of sight in retail stores. This bold step would protect youth from Big Tobacco’s marketing tactics and reduce youth smoking.

Despite past success, youth smoking rates have stalled, and tobacco remains the leading cause of preventable death in New York City. According to a recent Surgeon General report, 88 percent of adult smokers start by the age of 18. Under the new proposal, tobacco products can still be sold, but retailers will no longer be able to display tobacco products prominently and in plain view of youth and other customers.

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