New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who last week proposed requiring stores to keep tobacco products out of sight, also seeks to establish a minimum price for cigarettes and little cigars, The New York Times reports.
The mayor received widespread attention for his proposal to require stores to keep tobacco products in drawers, cabinets, behind a curtain, under the counter or in other hidden areas. Shops would not be allowed to accept cigarette coupons or honor discounts.
The less-discussed companion bill on tobacco product pricing could have just as much of an impact on smoking, experts told the newspaper. The measure would set a minimum price of $10.50 per pack for cigarettes or cigarillos, also known as little cigars. Retailers would be barred from redeeming coupons or offering other discounts.
“This is kind of a landmark set of proposals here,” said University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill professor Kurt Ribisl. His research on tobacco control influenced Mr. Bloomberg’s proposal. Dr. Ribisl said discounts are a major strategy used by cigarette makers to encourage customers such as teenagers and low-income smokers to purchase their products. Last year the Federal Trade Commission found the tobacco industry spent $6.5 billion on discounts in 2010.
Brent Loomis, a researcher at RTI International, said the bill would close off teenagers’ access to inexpensive cigarettes and little cigars.
New York already has the highest cigarette taxes in the country. City and state taxes add $5.85 to the cost of a pack of cigarettes.