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Out of Sight

TimesLedger Newspapers

Although we recognize Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s intention to save lives by requiring stores to keep the cigarettes that they sell out of sight, we question whether the plan will work and, more importantly, whether it is fair to demand that a store hide any product it sells.

Hiding the cigarettes won’t work. If smokers are willing to spend $10 or more for a pack, they will certainly know which stores in the neighborhood sell cigarettes.

City Hall should not be in the business of pressuring people into giving up smoking. It is one thing to protect people from the dangers of second-hand smoke, but quite another to force retailers to hide cigarettes they can legally sell.

Like the failed 16-ounce soda ban, the mayor has once again gone too far.

His intentions are commendable. Sugary sodas aren’t good for anyone’s health, but tobacco kills. Smoking is the leading cause of preventable death. Cigarettes are responsible for 7,000 deaths in New York City each year. That doesn’t account for the thousands of people being treated for cancer and lung disease.

It’s no secret how addictive smoking is. Stand outside any hospital in Queens and you are likely to see doctors and nurses, people who witness the results of smoking on a daily basis, taking cigarette breaks.

We doubt anyone reading this hasn’t lost a loved one to a tobacco-related disease.

More than once we have expressed our dismay that every major pharmacy in Queens sells cigarettes. The expensive packs of carcinogens are prominently displayed behind the check-out counter next to products designed to help addicts break the habit.

For these stores to claim to be dedicated to your health is hypocritical.

But it will make little sense to hide the cigarettes if stores can still put a poster in the window saying they have cigarettes for sale.

To his credit, since taking office Bloomberg has succeeded in limiting the number of public places where people can smoke, including all offices, parks, theaters and restaurants. On Monday, the city health commissioner said the adult smoking rate dropped to 14.8 percent in 2011 compared to 21.5 percent in 2002.

But this proposed regulation is one more example of the nanny state.

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