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PELHAM, N.Y. -- The abandonment of tobacco products by upscale grocers continues, as DeCicco Markets, an operator of six gourmet supermarkets in the New York counties above New York City, is the latest grocer to declare it will stop selling cigarettes, reported Progressive Grocer, sister publication to Convenience Store News.

The move follows similar steps by better-known retailers Wegmans, also based in New York, and California's Andronico's, according to the report.

DeCicco vice president of operations, John DeCicco Jr., said in an Associated Press report that the grocer's units in Pelham, Bronxville, Scarsdale, New City, and Jefferson Valley, N.Y., are selling off their respective inventories of tobacco and will no longer carry the category by April, the Progressive Grocer report stated.

The family-owned company's newest store, opened last year in Ardsley, N.Y., has never offered cigarettes and is "a big success," said DeCicco.

As for the decision to go smokeless chainwide, he explained, "We want to try to promote better health as much as possible. It's a moral decision as well in that we don't want to promote underage smoking."

DeCicco admitted, however, that the company would lose several thousand dollars a week in profit as a result of its stand, the report stated.

The American Lung Association of New York State, meanwhile, commended DeCicco's "for its commitment to public health and for placing the well-being of its customers above profit."

The organization also renewed it call for Gov. Eliot Spitzer and the New York state legislature to increase the excise tax on cigarettes by $1.50, contending that such a tax hike "will not only lead to increased state revenue, but will also create an economic incentive for smokers to quit their deadly addiction."