We were disappointed to learn that Big Tobacco succeeded in its attempt to force the Village of Haverstraw to rescind its ordinance prohibiting the display of tobacco products in retail stores (Smoked out: Haverstraw Village to drop anti-tobacco ordinance, online edition). The tobacco industry hoped that the resources available to a small village trying to protect public health would be no match for the big dollars they were willing to dedicate to attracting replacement customers. Sadly, in this case they were right.
While it’s understandable that a village the size of Haverstraw does not have the funds needed to pursue a legal challenge against the well-funded tobacco industry, the village should nonetheless be proud of its effort to protect their youth from tobacco, which claims the lives of more than 25,000 New Yorkers each year. The willingness of the tobacco industry to take a small village to court that is simply trying to protect its youth from tobacco initiation is not only proof positive of the tremendous force this industry wields, but a reminder of our need to continue investing in programs, like the state’s Tobacco Control program, which help reduce smoking rates and improve the health of New Yorkers.
Adrienne Weiss-Harrison, MD
American Lung Association of the Northeast