Federal Court Upholds NYC Coupon Ban

Minimum price, Price Promotions, Tobacco21, Youth
Exterior Price Promotion in North Carolina

In an effort to curb smoking rates, New York City passed a set of comprehensive POS policies in the fall of 2013. The Sensible Tobacco Enforcement and Tobacco 21 ordinances increased the minimum age to purchase tobacco products to 21, set the minimum price for cigarettes and cigars to $10.50 per pack and banned coupon redemption and other price promotion discounts. In response, the tobacco industry filed suit in January of 2014, claiming that the coupon restrictions implemented by the Sensible Tobacco Enforcement law violated First Amendment rights.

This month federal court judge Thomas Griesa upheld the validity of the ordinance indicating that, “Barring coupons doesn’t violate cigarette makers’ and sellers’ free-speech rights to communicate with customers.” This is a huge victory in NYC’s battle against youth tobacco use as research indicates that youth are three times more sensitive to tobacco advertising than adults [1]. Each day, nearly 4,000 youth in the United States try their first cigarette and an additional 1,000 youth under the age of 18 become new, daily smokers [2]. Research indicates that the tobacco industry’s use of price discounts has increased smoking rates among youth and is an integral component of transforming youth from experimental to established smokers [3,4].

The National Association of Tobacco Outlets (NATO), one of the members of the plaintiff group in the case, states that it is deciding on whether or not to appeal the decision.

For more information on this story, read this Washington Times article and access the full court ruling here.

Learn more about price policy strategies that can be implemented in your community by reading Washington University’s and the Tobacco Control Legal Consortium’s “Pricing Policy Strategy: A Tobacco Control Guide” released earlier this year.



  1. Pollay, R.W. (1996). The last straw? Cigarette advertising and realized market shares among youths and adults. Journal of Marketing, 60(2): 1-16
  2. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), HHS. (2011). Results from the 2010 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, NSDUH: Summary of National Findings. Retrieved fromhttp://www.samhsa.gov/data/sites/default/files/NSDUHNationalFindingsResults2010-web/2k10ResultsTables/NSDUHTables2010R/PDF/Sect4peTabs10to11.pdf
  3. Slater SJ, Chaloupka FJ, Wakefield M, Johnston LD, O’Malley PM. The impact of retail cigarette marketing practices on youth smoking uptake. Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine. 2007;161(5):440-445.
  4. US Department of Health and Human Services. Preventing Tobacco Use Among Youth and Young Adults: A Report of the Surgeon General. Atlanta, GA: US Dept of Health and Human Services, Public Health Service, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, Office on Smoking and Health; 2012.
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