CITY OF NEWBURGH — The City Council is sending its controversial tobacco law back to the drawing board for some rewording.
The proposed law would require all retailers selling tobacco products to obtain a city license in addition to the one they already get from the state. It also would require that all tobacco products be shielded from view of customers.
The law is aimed primarily at preventing sales to minors.
A public hearing that had been scheduled for Monday's council meeting was not held. Instead, the six council members present unanimously agreed to adjourn the hearing and send the proposed local law back to the city's legal staff for fine-tuning. No specific changes were suggested.
"We're not giving up," said Mayor Judy Kennedy. "But we want to be sure what's presented will stand the test of the legal system."
The Village of Haverstraw in Rockland County adopted a similar law two years ago. The New York Association of Convenience Stores and seven tobacco manufacturers responded by suing the village in federal court, arguing the law violated their freedom of speech.
The convenience store association reacted similarly to Newburgh's proposed law, suggesting it is not only unconstitutional but duplicative of what the state does.
But TEAM Newburgh, the community group that is among the law's supporters, says it is not meant to be punitive but is aimed at combatting practices such as selling crack pipes that are disguised as legitimate tobacco products.
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