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    NYACS Keeps Busy

    Legislative agenda to address tobacco and fuel issues.

    Fresh off its spring convention in Saratoga Springs, N.Y., the New York Association of Convenience Stores (NYACS) announced its busy legislative agenda for 2001 that includes an increased effort to combat drive-offs and underage smoking.

    NYACS' top legislative priority for this year is passing an affirmative defense law that protects the tobacco and lottery licenses of responsible retailers. The bill has been introduced in the state Senate by Sen. Kemp Hannon (R-Nassau) and in the Assembly by Assemblyman Eric Vitaliano (D-Dongan Hills).

    If approved, the bill would grant an affirmative defense against loss of license for underage tobacco sales if retailers can prove they completed a tobacco training awareness program and took other steps to demonstrating a commitment to responsible retailing. Similar measures have been passed in Ohio and West Virginia.

    A second bill, aimed at stiffening penalties for consumers that drive off without paying for fuel was introduced last month by Assemblyman Sam Hoyt (D-Buffalo).

    Hoyt, who called drive-offs "a growing problem in New York State," proposed a six-month driver's license suspension for motorists caught leaving the pumps without paying on the second offense. NYACS had been pushing for a six-month suspension on the first offense, but state lawmakers balked to protect consumers that inadvertently drive away before paying.

    "This is still an improvement, and NYACS is actively supporting the bill," the association said in a release.

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