Brad Gerstman in NY Daily News Bloomberg Tobacco Display Ban

Undeterred by the collapse of his big-soda ban, Mayor Bloomberg launched a new health crusade Monday, proposing a law to forbid stores from publicly displaying cigarettes and other tobacco products.

New York would be the first city in the nation to impose such a ban, which Bloomberg framed as a way to reduce teen smoking.

“We know that out of sight doesn’t always mean out of mind, but in many cases it can. And we think this measure will help reduce impulse purchases, and if it does, it will literally save lives,” Bloomberg said.

Packs of cigarettes are a common sight in bodegas and delis. A Health Department report found that 80% of stores that sell cigarettes devote most of their space behind the register to tobacco displays.

“Such displays suggest that smoking is a normal activity and they invite young people to experiment with tobacco,” Bloomberg said. Aides pointed out that the youth smoking rate hasn’t budged from 8.5% since 2007.

Under the proposal, tobacco products would have to be under counters, in cabinets, behind curtains — anywhere but in public view. Stores would still be able to advertise that they sell cigarettes, and could display prices.

The proposal represents a new chapter in Bloomberg’s campaign to improve public health. The city already has banned smoking in public places, even parks and beaches, as well as in bars and restaurants. Bloomberg also has banished trans fats from restaurants…

…Brad Gerstman of the predicted the rule would be struck down in court like the soda ban.

“It’s another example of this guy trying to advance his social agenda while disregarding businesses,” he said.

Issuing rules to cut down on teens buying cigarettes makes no sense since selling to kids is already illegal, he said.

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