Buffalo, New York - considering the toughest tobacco control progam in nation..

June 30, 2010 - Can the City of Buffalo protect their youngsters by having the toughest tobacco control program in the entire nation?? We thought the program in San Francisco or Boston (and suburbs) were good but the program being discussed in Buffalo would be even better.

A hearing was held on Tuesday, June 29th sponsored by the Buffalo Common Council's Legislation Committee regarding ways to prevent youngsters from beginning to use tobacco. (The City of Buffalo Common Council is the legislative branch of the city government.)

Anti-smoking advocates want the Council to pass one of the nation's toughest laws involving tobacco sales. But some retailers insist a new city law would create an unneeded layer of restrictions that should be left to federal regulators.

Under the plan sponsored by Masten representative Demone A. Smith, some new businesses would be barred from selling tobacco products, including pharmacies, restaurants, establishments that primarily serve minors, or businesses that are within 1,000 feet of schools. Beginning in 2014, tobacco products could not be sold at any drugstores, bars, restaurants, game rooms or on school or college properties.

The law would force tobacco companies to pay a user fee for every brand or sub-brand of cigarette they distribute in Buffalo. The revenue … which could approach $300,000 a year … would be used to hire new inspectors to enforce the new laws.

Among the dozens of provisions in the bill are tougher regulations on tobacco advertising. They would include a ban on large outdoor tobacco product ads at stores near schools and a new rule that would not permit the amount of space for tobacco ads to exceed the square footage of ads for all other products.

Some bill supporters believe the proliferation of advertising is one reason many youngsters begin to smoke. Stores are at the "front line" for the tobacco industry, said pastor James Giles, executive director of Back to Basics Outreach Ministries. He said many stores are selling cigarettes to minors, "addicting them for life." "I have young people stealing from their parents to buy cigarettes," said Giles. He said he runs a substance abuse program where some people can kick a crack habit, but can't quit smoking.

Other speakers noted that there are nearly 400 businesses in Buffalo that sell tobacco products, adding that many of them display a couple dozen tobacco ads.

Among those speaking against the new regulations at today's hearing was Michael Newman, co-owner of Noco Energy Corp. who is chairman of the New York Association of Convenience Stores. The association has argued that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration is already working on new regulations to govern tobacco retailing. Dan Shanahan, chief financial officer of Wilson Farms neighborhood convenience stores said he's not a "devil," but is a "responsible tobacco retailer." He said no one wants minors to smoke, but he added that cigarettes are acceptable commercial products for adults.

Hillary Clarke, the American Cancer Society's local director of advocacy, argued that reducing the number of tobacco retail outlets over time will lead to reduced sales of products that cause nearly nine out of 10 lung cancer deaths.

Reference: Plan to regulate tobacco sales, ads spurs debate
By Brian Meyer, NEWS STAFF REPORTER, The Buffalo News, 6/29/2010.

Buffalo - related news briefs:
Town of Tonawanda - smoking ban in town buildings and recreation areas..;
Buffalo - landlords must disclose to tenants whether they allow smoking..;