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NEW YORK -- The New York Association of Convenience Stores (NYACS) is banding together with seven tobacco companies to try to overturn a ban on the display of tobacco products in the village of Haverstraw, N.Y. NYACS, Lorillard Tobacco Co., Philip Morris USA Inc., R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., Santa Fe Natural Tobacco Co., American Snuff Co. LLC, U.S. Smokeless Tobacco Brands Inc., and John Middleton Co. filed a lawsuit yesterday in U.S. District Court in the Southern District of New York.
The local law, which passed in April and would go into effect in October, bans the display of all tobacco products. Retailers would provide customers with a printed tobacco menu.
NYACS and the tobacco companies described the ban as "a straightforward assault on the content of cigarette advertising and promotion" that violates their First Amendment right to free speech and asked the court to declare the law unconstitutional and permanently bar its enforcement.
"Retailers have a fundamental right to communicate with their customers about the products they offer by displaying those products within their own premises," said NYACS President James Calvin. "The United States and New York State constitutions have long protected this form of commercial speech."
Defendants in the lawsuit are the Village of Haverstraw and the village agencies and officers that were assigned responsibility for enforcing the display ban.