CITY HALL — Mayor Michael Bloomberg's plan to force retailers to hide cigarettes out of customers' sight was formally introduced in the City Council Wednesday by the chairwoman of the council's health committee.
The Tobacco Product Display Restriction bill would force retailers to keep tobacco products hidden under counters, behind curtains or in cabinets, until they're requested by a customer.
A second Sensible Tobacco Enforcement bill would set a $10.50 price floor for packs of cigarettes and small cigars and prohibit the use of coupons and other deals. It would also bar minors without parents from entering specialty tobacco stores, which would be excluded from the rules.
"Cigarettes and tobacco products are the only consumer products that, when used exactly as intended, kill up to one-half of regular users," reads the legislation, which was introduced by City Councilwoman Maria Del Carmen Arroyo, at the request of the mayor.
Also on Tuesday, the council passed two transportation resolutions: one calling on the State Legislature and Gov. Andrew Cuomo to authorize a pilot program to install 20 to 40 speeding cameras near schools and senior centers, and one that would grant police officers the authority to charge drivers with "failure to exercise due care," even if officers didn't witness an accident.
“This is another tool in the box that we should be using,” said Bronx Councilman James Vacca, chairman of the council's transportation committee. “This is not about giving out tickets for money. This is about helping people stay alive.
“I know people have raised an objection," Vacca continued. "Some people feel that Big Brother is watching you. But I want you to know if you’re going 40 to 60 miles an hour at a school site or near a senior center, I want Big Brother to watch you.”
The council also voted to authorize the redevelopment of Pier 17 at the South Street Seaport and on a plan that will allow veterans to apply experience from the military toward relevant licenses and certifications.
A final bill will require the Department of Youth and Community Development and the Administration for Children’s Services to report the number of sexually abused children the agencies serve, by age and gender.
“The first thing we need to know if we are to better protect our children from sexual exploitation, is how many of them are in danger," Councilman Lew Fidler said.