Judge Delays NYC Tobacco Regulations

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Judge Delays NYC Tobacco Regulations


NEW YORK CITY -- Under a recent ruling, New York City officials won't be able to enforce new tobacco regulations until mid-May.

During a federal district court hearing on March 14, a federal judge ruled New York City could not enforce Section 6 of the recently enacted New York City tobacco ordinance until May 23, or the adoption of final regulations implementing the ordinance provisions, according to the National Association of Tobacco Outlets (NATO).

That particular section of the ordinance, which passed at the end of October, does the following:

  • Prohibits the honoring or redeeming of coupons and other price reduction instruments on cigarettes and tobacco products;
  • Outlaws the offering for sale or selling of cigarette and tobacco products through any multi-package discounts or for less than the listed price, in exchange for purchasing other cigarettes or tobacco products;
  • Prohibits offering tobacco products for sale at less than the listed price;
  • Mandates a minimum price of $10.50 for cigarettes and little cigars sold in packages of 20 or more.

In January, NATO, the New York Association of Convenience Stores and the Bodega Association of the United States, along with Lorillard Tobacco Co., R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. Inc., American Snuff Co., Philip Morris USA Inc., U.S. Smokeless Tobacco Brands Inc. and John Middleton Co. filed a lawsuit in the U.S. Federal District Court for the Southern District of New York seeking preliminary and permanent injunctions against the enforcement of several provisions of the New York City ordinance. The measure was scheduled to go into effect today.

The lawsuit aims to overturn only those provisions that prohibit certain coupon redemption and discount price practices. However, the judge barred the city from enforcing all provisions of Section 6, according to NATO. 

In addition, the court's order states that New York City "shall not use or reference in any administrative or legal proceeding against a retailer the fact that, during this stay period, the retailer engaged in conduct that would otherwise be prohibited under Section 6," the association said.

The order allows both the plaintiffs and the defendants in the lawsuit to file motions for summary judgment along with NATO and the other plaintiffs' original motion seeking a temporary and permanent injunction against particular provisions. 

The court will hear oral arguments on all of the motions on May 6. It said it will decide those motions before its order against enforcement of the New York City ordinance expires, according to NATO.