The Rockland County Times’ recent article “Philip Morris Sues Village of Haverstraw” points out that that Haverstraw recently passed an ordinance to require tobacco retailers to hide cigarettes and cigars from the sight of the general public. However, the article fails to note that this display ban targets more than just combustible tobacco products. The ordinance also bans in-store marketing of newer and reduced risk tobacco products that are target marketed to heavy smokers such as smoke-free electronic cigarettes, snus (snuff), and dissolvable tobacco.
By virtue of being smoke-free, all of these products are about 99 percent less hazardous than cigarettes. And thanks in part to the very same kind of in-store promotion that Haverstraw has decided to ban, hundreds of thousands of American smokers – including many who have failed multiple times to quit with ineffective nicotine replacement therapy products – have quit smoking and switched to these products. In the process, these ex-smokers have dramatically reduced their risk of disease and death to themselves and other close to them.
Smokers have a right to truthful information about less hazardous products that have the capability of saving their lives. Part of this right includes the ability to know that the products exist, and in-store marketing accomplishes this objective. If Haverstraw officials are serious about reducing smoking, they should amend their ordinance to only target the most hazardous tobacco products. Anything more is unjustifiable and is counter-productive to creating a healthier society.