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New York Moves to Ban Free Cigarettes

LONG ISLAND, N.Y. -- Suffolk County lawmakers approved a tougher ban against distributing free promotional cigarettes and other tobacco products.

The county legislature voted 15 to 3 to amend a law that prohibits tobacco companies from handing out free cigarettes to minors. Under the proposed law, free cigarettes, chewing tobacco and cigars could not be handed out to adults in bars or factories, according to the New York Daily News.

If approved, the bill could be introduced in other counties throughout the state, the report said.

The legislation still needs the support of County Executive Robert Gaffney to become law. A spokeswoman for Gaffney said he still needs to review the legislation, but a source said the county executive is lukewarm to the idea for legal reasons.

The proposed ban would still allow manufacturers to issue product coupons, but only if the coupon is redeemable in a face-to-face transaction where the consumer's age can be verified. Vendors cannot sell tobacco products to children younger than 18.

Paul Tonna, the Legislature's presiding officer who introduced the smoking ban bill, said measure is needed because tobacco products could "potentially cause great harm to the public."
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