NBC News Brad Gerstman on Tobacco Ban – Tiny Village Mayor’s Fight


The mayor of a tiny village that tried to ban stores from displaying cigarettes has a message for New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg as he attempts to do the same thing.

Good luck.

Mayor Michael Kohut, of the Village of Haverstraw in upstate New York, said the town board had to repeal its ordinance after Big Tobacco came after them with a federal lawsuit that would have cost the community — population 11,000 — hundreds of thousands in legal fees.

“They brought their full forces to bear and it was going to be a long, drawn-out, expensive process.” Kohut said Tuesday. “I said unless someone wants to pay for this, I can’t pass this onto my village.”

As part of the settlement, the town rescinded an ordinance that would have forced retailers to keep tobacco products out of public view…

…”We’re considering all the options, from political to legal,” said Brad Gerstman, counsel to the New York Association of Grocery Stores, who noted that Bloomberg’s recent efforts to ban super-size sodas and force stores to display gruesome anti-smoking ads have been shot down.

“The only people who can put up a fight are big industries,” Gerstman said of the city’s public-health crusade. “The soda industry has won and tobacco has won but the city is notorious for grinding people down.”

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