Court Upholds Tobacco Discount Ban in NYC

     MANHATTAN (CN) – Tobacco manufacturers and retailers cannot fight a recently passed New York City law that blocks cigarette discounts, a federal judge ruled.
     Rounding off a long tenure of supporting public-health regulations, Mayor Michael Bloomberg signed a law on Nov. 19, 2013, that blocked tobacco companies from selling any tobacco products below the listed or advertised price.
     With Bloomberg then leaving office, the National Association of Tobacco Outlets claimed in a federal complaint alongside other challengers that the law blocked their free-speech rights to tell customers that they are “getting a deal.”
     The litigation delayed the enforcement of the law, which was originally supposed to take effect in March.
     U.S. District Judge Thomas Griesa tossed the lawsuit Wednesday, saying “price regulations designed to discourage consumption of a potentially harmful product do not violate the First Amendment so long as they do not preclude the effected retailers’ ability to provide truthful, nonmisleading information about the regulated product to consumers.”
     Nicholas Ciappetta, a senior counsel with the New York City Law Department, celebrated what he called a “huge victory for the city’s comprehensive efforts to reduce tobacco usage.”
     “The restrictions will reduce the consumption of these highly addictive and deadly products, thereby saving and improving the lives of countless New York City residents,” Ciappetta said in a statement.
     Other aspects of the law, which include a price floor of $10.50 for cigarettes, heavier fines for illegal sales and harsher penalties for cigarette excise tax evasion, did not face a challenge.
     The National Association of Tobacco Outlets did not immediately return a request for comment.

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