Thursday marks the 'Great American Smoke-Out', an initiative set forth by the American Cancer Society to encourage smokers to kick their habit for one day, and hopefully a lifetime. It's also the day that a Buffalo Common Council Member is trying to crack down on tobacco companies. Masten District Common Council Member Demone Smith is trying to get a city law passed to limit tobacco advertisements at stores and to force tobacco companies to foot the bill for selling their products in city stores.
The Proposal, called the Responsible Tobacco Retailing Act, would require Buffalo businesses who sell tobacco products to obtain an annual license from the city. The license fee of $1,000 per tobacco line sold would then be passed onto tobacco companies. The retailing act would also limit the number of tobacco ads within stores.
"We're not trying to infringe on people's rights to smoke," said Smith. "We hope they stop smoking but we don't want our kids to be targeted and our community saturated with tobacco ads."
Rich Fontana, who represents Buffalo's Lovejoy District, says he supports Smith when it comes to limiting tobacco ads but doesn't believe a license is the right move.
"I'm all about codifying codes when it comes to advertising, but some of the retailers are telling us the fees would be punitive since they're already paying the state $5,000 in some cases to sell tobacco," said Fontana.
Smith says the law is still being finalized, but hopes to present it to the common council in the near future.