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Gross-out Law Struck Down

Starting this coming weekend, if New York City legislators had their way, you would have been subjected to disturbing posters of diseased lungs, brains and teeth every time you bought something from a bodega, whether or not it was a tobacco product. So would the 7-year-old kids who just wanted to buy a couple of quarter waters or a bag of chips.

The proposed law in question stated that placards of these grisly images were to be posted at cash registers in bodegas and convenience stores, and were intended to serve as caveats for the dangers of smoking. In reality they would have deterred paying customers, regardless of whether they intended on buying tobacco products.

Thankfully, these placards will not see the light of day as a result of a 13-page ruling by Judge Jed S. Rakoff of the United States District Court in Manhattan, who apparently has more sense than most. The ruling states that while the law was “well-intentioned,” it would have violated federal law since only the federal government can regulate tobacco warnings and ads. Rakoff cited the Labeling Act, which was enacted in 1965 and set out to protect the public while also protecting commerce and the national economy.

Fighting on the side of the store owners was the New York State Association of Convenience Stores. Floyd Abrams, one of their lawyers, remarked that the striking down of the law “will allow the retail stores in New York to be freed of the obligation to put signs up urging customers not to buy their lawful products.”

While I’m glad that 2011 started with a small victory, I don’t think we’ve seen the last of this type of garbage. The health department is already complaining about the ruling, saying that tobacco companies that opposed the law “should be ashamed of themselves.” For what? For wanting to keep paying customers and their children from being visually assaulted every time they want to buy ANYTHING from a convenience store?

I’m betting that these nanny legislators in New York are going to go straight to the feds with this one to continue to push their war on smoking. Keep your eyes peeled for any such activity and do your part to fight this sort of idiocy in the future, but in the meantime, celebrate victory for once and smoke ‘em if you got ‘em!