Despite tobacco control efforts, tobacco is still the leading cause of preventable death in New York City . Trends reveal that since 2007, New York City youth smoking rates have remained steady at 8.5% . In 2011, 28,000 NYC public high school students tried smoking for the first time while 19,000 under aged NYC public high school students identified as current smokers . In order to curtail the incidence of tobacco use among youth, Mayor Bloomberg is introducing two new point-of-sale (POS) regulations addressing tobacco product discounts and tobacco advertising displays.
Banning Price Promotions and Setting a Floor Price for Cigarettes
The first policy focuses on eliminating tobacco discounts, as it has been shown that youth are up to three times more sensitive to tobacco product price than adults . Research has also shown that a 10% price increase is estimated to reduce youth smoking prevalence by 5% or more . In light of these findings, NYC's new tobacco policy prohibits tobacco discounts and requires $10.50 minimum pricing for cigarette packs and little cigars. Cheap cigars and cigarillos are to be sold in packs of 4 or more and little cigars, typically discounted 2 for $1.00, must be sold in packs of 20. In addition, enforcement will be expanded and penalties increased to ensure that retailers are paying tobacco taxes and are licensed to sell tobacco products.
Tobacco Products Display Ban
Research indicates that exposure to POS advertising is associated with smoking and smoking experimentation among youth [5,6]. Furthermore, pairing POS advertising alongside other products creates the social norm that tobacco use is socially acceptable thus increasing the chances that youth engage in smoking [7,8,9]. In 2013 researchers Johns, Rane & Kansagra found that across the previous 12 months, NYC high school students who visited retailers 2 or more times a week were 40% more likely to experiment with smoking than youth that visited retailers less frequently .
The second NYC policy prohibits the display of tobacco products at the point-of-sale in order to reduce tobacco advertising exposure among youth. The provisions of the bill include that tobacco products must be out of sight unless the product is being restocked or purchased by an adult. Tobacco products are to be stored in drawers, opaque cabinets, behind a curtain, below the counter, or behind any covering that hides the tobacco product from consumer view. Retailer stores will still retain the right to advertise and communicate tobacco product and price information to patrons. Retailers that primarily sell tobacco products are exempt from the policy but must ensure that those that enter their establishment are 18 and older or accompanied by an adult.
Stay tuned to these pieces of legislation as they could potentially set key precedents for US tobacco POS regulation.
Looking for a toolkit to address similar issues in your community? Check out our resources on how to raise cigarette prices through non-tax approaches as well as methods on how to restrict tobacco product placement.
For more on the NYC POS Legislation check out Counter Tobacco's Feature Story.
1. New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene. Preventing Non-Communicable Disease and Injuries: Innovative Solutions from New York City. New York: New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, 2011.
2. New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene. Youth Risk Behavior Survey 2007.
3. New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene. Youth Risk Behavior Survey 2011.
4. Chaloupka, F., & Pacula, R. (1999). The impact of price on youth tobacco use.Changing Adolescent Smoking Prevalence: Where It Is and Why, Smoking and Tobacco Control Monograph No, 14.
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8. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Preventing Tobacco Use Among Youth and Young Adults: A Report of the Surgeon General. Atlanta, GA: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, Office on Smoking and Health, 2012.
9. Henriksen L, Flora JA, Feighery E, Fortmann SP. Effects on Youth of Exposure to Retail Tobacco Advertising. J of Applied Social Psych 2002;32(9):1771-1789.
10. Johns, M., Rane, M., & Kansagra, SM. (2013, March). Exposure to Tobacco Retail Outlets and Smoking Initiation among Public High School Students in New York City. Poster presented at the annual meeting of the Society for Research on Nicotine & Tobacco, Boston, MA.