Mayor Michael Bloomberg has been accused of many things over the years, but at a press conference today, a spokesman for the New York Association of Grocery stores have provided a new nickname: magician.
“Mayor should be a great Houndini, he should be Houdini, because in 2001, when he took office, we were selling 42 million cartons of cigarettes in New York City,” the representative, David Schwartz argued. “The great Houdini waved his magic wand and suddenly, in 2013, we are selling 7,000,000 units of cigarettes.”
Mr. Schwartz, of course, did not find that the fall reliable reflection of the actual reduction of smoking.
“If someone thinks that smoking has decreased from 42 million to 7 million,” he said, “that there is a bridge behind us, I would like to sell to all.”
Instead, he blamed the drop in sales on the black market.
“This mayor and the Council created the largest black market we have ever seen. This black market in cigarettes competes with the drug trade. Opportunists took advantage of the system and they are buying tax-free cigarettes in this city, and they sell them everywhere,” said Mr. Schwartz , railing loudly against the mayor in front of the tobacco shop near City Hall.
Mr. Schwartz was one of several members of the new coalition, Save Our stores that recently formed strongly against Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s proposal to ban stores from the publicity displaying of cigarettes and tobacco products, as well as setting a minimum price for cigarettes and ban retailers from redeeming cigarette coupons. Coalition, of course, broke both in politics, Mr. Bloomberg and the mayor himself, portraying him as an enemy of small businesses that are infinitely swamps in fines and regulations.
The various speakers argued that, in addition to building a growing black market for cigarettes, the proposal would be unfair to adult consumers and limits the ability of retailers to compete on price to the detriment of their profits. They even claimed the display ban violates the First Amendment, which they said protects the communication of truthful and non-misleading commercial messages about lawful products. Politicker coalition representative said, however, that they were “non-political” groups, which are not wading in the mayoral election this year.
“The display ban would not serve the goal and in fact will have the opposite effect,” said Robert Bookman, a lawyer of New York City Newsstand Operators Association. “This law will require us to replace the wall with a cigarette, probably, siding, wood paneling. Do you think it will go on the siding or wood panels. This will not be a blank wall, so we’re going to replace a really unattractive cigarette packs with very attractive offers Joe Camel and Marlboro and Newport on sale here. ”
Chong Sik Lee, president of the Korean American Grocers Association of New York, said that the proposals were just an example of how small business owners seem to be under constant attack from the Bloomberg Administration.
“Even if we have an outdated sign, we get fined right away,” Mr. Lee. “In addition, the proposal requires us to make changes in our stores to hide tobacco products. Why do we have to hide legal products?”
The City Council’s Health Committee will hold hearings on the legislative proposals starting tomorrow.
Mr. Bloomberg’s office did not immediately have a comment, but the administration previously touted its anti-smoking efforts as rescue tools critical to improve the residents of New York City life expectancy rates.