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Mayor Bloomberg to stores: Hide your cigarettes

An anti-cigarette ad released by Tobacco Free NYS in New York.

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg is proposing a ban on cigarette displays in stores. It’s the latest proposal aimed at making the Big Apple a little healthier, and it comes just a week after a judge struck down his proposed ban on the sale of some large sugary drinks.

“That’s not gonna avoid nothing,” says smoker Nathaniel Soto as he walks along Lexington Avenue, “people gonna smoke no matter what.”

But a few blocks away, at the 646 Deli, manager P M says he’d lose business, because hiding the smokes makes the buying process more cumbersome.

“There are lots of varieties, and people don’t know the names. Just like Marlboro, they have 20, 30 types varieties,” he says, "“It means you don’t sell as much."

Retail analyst Howard Davidowitz says P’s instincts are good -- even with something as addictive as cigarettes, product display and visibility are crucial:

“If you can’t see something, there’s gonna be less buying of it,” says Davidowitz.

Bloomberg’s plan will be reviewed by the New York City Council. Though there are similar laws in Iceland, Canada, England and Ireland, it would be a first in the U.S.

One potential loophole though, sellers would still be able to advertise cigarettes. So theoretically, they could hide their cigarettes...behind an ad for cigarettes.

About the author

Sabri Ben-Achour is a reporter for Marketplace, based in the New York City bureau. He covers Wall Street, finance, and anything New York and money related.

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