The bill, Intro 1462, would require all non-smoke shops selling tobacco and non-tobacco smoking products to keep from displaying these products openly. Non-smoke shops would be required to keep all smoking products out of sight under the counter until the sale.
Council Member Ydanis Rodriguez announced new legislation on Friday that would drastically change the way stores sell and physically market smoking products. Standing alongside NYS Senator Marisol Alcantara and NYS Assemblywoman Carmen De La Rosa and Dr. Awilda Torres of Inwood Community Services, a community organization focused on mental health and substance abuse, Rodriguez discussed his legislation introduced this week with the intention to reduce smoking among teens and young adults.
Medical studies have shown the damage hooka can do to young lungs, comparing 45 minutes of smoking hooka to smoking as many as 100 cigarettes. Concern over prevalent hooka smoking among minors is compounded by marketing that directly targets younger age groups through various flavors and colorful displays.
A study by the National Cancer Institute and the FDA Center for Tobacco Products found that keeping smoking products out of sight in stores reduces the susceptibility of minors to consider smoking later in life. Similar steps have been taken in other countries across the world, including the United Kingdom, Ireland, Norway, Australia and more.
“Strategically trying to get kids hooked on hooka and cigarettes from a young age is flat out wrong,” said Council Member Ydanis Rodriguez, sponsor of Intro 1462 in the NYC Council. “We want to send the message that these products have no place in store windows and at the height levels of toddlers. Putting smoking products under the counter, out of sight, can lower young people’s susceptibility to smoking later in life. Uptown knows we have a hooka problem, especially among minors, and it’s past time we addressed it.”
“I have seen firsthand the toll that tobacco use, especially underage tobacco use, has had on my community,” said NYS Senator Marisol Alcantara. “The sweet flavors and colorful displays favored by marketers show that its use by minors is not just an incidental effect, and creates the false impression that products such as hooka are safe to use. We must take action, and must not allow corner stores to lure children by prominently advertising hooka and other tobacco products in their windows.”
“As a young mother, I fear the constant marketing of Tobacco and hooka products could have on my daughter,” said NYS Assemblywoman Carmen De La Rosa. “Too many young people get hooked on smoking at a young age, especially with the barrage of marketing coming from tobacco companies, then end up with cancer or lung disease. Council Member Rodriguez is taking a bold step that could yield tremendous benefits and become model legislation for jurisdictions across the country, and I applaud him for this step.”
“It is the responsibility of all adults to do whatever it takes to protect our children,” said Ramon Murphy, President of the Bodega Association of the United States. “That is why I am proud to support Council Member Rodriguez’s initiative to change the way tobacco products are marketed in our stores.”
Over the past several years, complaints over Hooka smoking in Washington Heights and Inwood have been on the rise. During a summer evening, teenagers can be found on side streets and stoops with a water pipe, smoking with friends. This compounds with the heavy hooka use in local restaurants and the prevalence of hooka products in corner store window displays.