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WAMPSVILLE, N.Y. – Convenience store customers in Madison County, N.Y., may soon see no tobacco at their local c-store. The county's eight-member Board of Health is in the process of developing a display ban that would require all tobacco products to be hidden from view, according to the Oneida Daily Dispatch. The measure is intended to reduce adolescents' exposure to tobacco.
Display bans have been enacted in other countries, including Canada, Ireland and Norway. Madison County Department of Health Director Eric Faisst said such a ban hasn’t been attempted anywhere else in the United States, that he’s aware of at least. "The Madison County Board of Health has a strong interest in protecting adolescents from tobacco dependence and subsequent illnesses and premature death associated with tobacco use," John Endres, president of the Board of Health, said in a written statement. He noted that research shows 90 percent of smokers took up the habit before the age of 18 and that tobacco product displays are a contributing factor.
"Research shows that preventing the display of tobacco products, separate and apart from tobacco advertising, will lead to a significant decrease in the number of adolescents becoming addicted to tobacco products," Endres said.
Stores that are open to minors would have to comply with the ban, but the exact method would be up to store owners. Tobacco products could be kept under counters, in storage rooms or anywhere else that customers cannot easily view.
The county's Board of Supervisors supports the ban, which is slated to take effect in the spring of 2013. Local officials have predicted there will be little effect on sales, but strong opposition is likely from the convenience store industry, especially due to the fact that the ban will not be enforced at stores owned by the Oneida Nation.
"We're drowning in double standards as it is," Jim Calvin, president of the New York Association of Convenience Stores, said in a statement. "And now Madison County wants to make it even worse by making us hide products we have been licensed by the state of New York to sell, giving our customers yet another reason to go down the road to the reservation. Are you kidding me?"
Calvin alleged that multiple Sav-On stores in Oneida Nation territory already disregard a statewide ban on self-service tobacco displays that other c-stores must abide by.
The county will hold a series of hearings before the ban is enacted, and the New York State Department of Health will have to give ultimate approval. However, the ban may not get that far -- if public feedback is overwhelmingly negative, the board may not move forward. "Nothing is set in stone," said Endres.