NEW YORK - The New York Association of Convenience Stores (NYACS) and seven tobacco companies filed suit this week in U.S. District Court to overturn an impending tobacco product display ban in stores in the Village of Haverstraw, Rockland County.
NYACS, Lorillard Tobacco Co., Philip Morris USA Inc., R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., Santa Fe Natural Tobacco Co., American Snuff Co. LLC, U.S. Smokeless Tobacco Brands Inc., and John Middleton Co. filed the civil suit June 26 in U.S. District Court in the Southern District of New York.
Describing the ban as "a straightforward assault on the content of cigarette advertising and promotion" that violate their First Amendment right to free speech, the plaintiffs asked the court to declare the local law unconstitutional and permanently enjoin the Hudson Valley village from enforcing it.
The Village Board adopted the ban in April. Under the law, tobacco retailers could not display tobacco products but could instead providing age-verified customers, upon request, with a printed tobacco "menu" from which to order.
"Retailers have a fundamental right to communicate with their customers about the products they offer by displaying those products within their own premises," said James Calvin, NYACS President. "The United States and New York State constitutions have long protected this form of commercial speech."