If you live in the largest city in America, and enjoy ANY type of flavored tobacco, it’s time to start stocking up before you are forced to buy online. If you’re a retailer selling tobacco in New York, we feel sorry for you.
If you’re an adult that has been enjoying the freedom of taking pleasure in tobacco products in the largest city in America, in what is supposed to be the freest country in the world, another one of your freedoms just got taken away.
Mayor Michael Bloomberg signed a bill into law on Wednesday, October 28, 2009 prohibiting the sale of flavored tobacco products within New York City limits. The signing of bill 433-A, which was proposed on October 13 and put on Bloomberg’s desk two weeks ago, will render the sale of ALL flavored tobacco products; including flavored cigars and flavored pipe tobacco products illegal in New York City in 120 days (February 28, 2010).
This measure is more strict than the recent FDA ban, which banned flavored cigarettes (including cloves, but not menthol), as it extends to flavored cigars, chewing tobacco and pipe tobacco.
"Introductory number (433-A) would ban the sale of tobacco products with characterizing flavors, except for menthol, mint, or wintergreen, in any location other than a tobacco bar," said Bloomberg in the official press release. "This bill improves upon the recent federal ban on flavored cigarettes and makes New York City the first city to protect children from all flavored products on the market."
It seems no one told the mayor that it is already illegal for any tobacco products, whether they are flavored or not, to be sold to or bought by children.
"I feel like I’m in a bad episode of The Twilight Zone" bemoaned Kevin Godbee, editor of PipesMagazine.com. "We’re going to Manhattan to Davidoff of Geneva in two weeks to film a video, and I just can’t imagine that in one of the greatest cities in the world, one of my favorite cities, that something as friendly and soothing as an aromatic pipe tobacco will be illegal. Can’t we get an exemption similar to "medical marijuana"? I never thought I would see the day that marijuana starts becoming more legal, while aromatic pipe tobacco becomes illegal. This is like a bad dream that I can’t wake up from. And by the way, why are all flavors evil except for menthol, mint, or wintergreen? I loved mint candies when I was a kid. Did something change? Are kids repelled by mint today? Or is it that the largest sales of flavored tobacco products are menthol cigarettes and they made some kind of inside deal?"
Speaking of "inside deals", make sure you don’t miss this significant part of the new law:
[17-703] 17-715 Sale of flavored tobacco products prohibited.
It shall be unlawful for any person to sell or offer for sale any flavored tobacco product except in a tobacco bar. (Emphasis added)
i. "Tobacco bar" has the meaning as such term is defined in subdivision jj of section 17-502 of this code.
While referencing "this code", the definition of a “tobacco bar” is not contained in the new document. You can download the pdf here:
You will not find the definition of a tobacco bar in that document.
However, we did some research and found that the definition of a tobacco bar is vague, ambiguous and telling of potential favoritism.
|jj. "Tobacco bar" is a bar that, in the calendar year ending December 31, 2001, generated ten percent or more of its total annual gross income from the on-site sale of tobacco products and the rental of on-site humidors, not including any sales from vending machines, and is registered with the department of health and mental hygiene in accordance with the rules of such agency. Such registration shall remain in effect for one year and shall be renewable only if: (i) in the preceding calendar year, the previously registered tobacco bar generated ten percent or more of its total annual gross income from the on-site sale of tobacco products and the rental of on-site humidors; and (ii) the tobacco bar has not expanded its size or changed its location from its size or location as of December 31, 2001.|
Apparently, any tobacco bars in existence after 2001 are out. If you are "grand-fathered" in, you can never move either.
It is not clear if an establishment must have personal humidors for rent to qualify, but it seems so. ""Tobacco bar" is a bar that, in the calendar year ending December 31, 2001, generated ten percent or more of its total annual gross income from the on-site sale of tobacco products and the rental of on-site humidors". A reasonable person would say that it can be either or, but as usual these laws are written so they can be interpreted different ways.
We hope the CRA and the IPCPR will be organizing rallies, protests and lobbying to stop this reckless, mindless theft of our freedoms.