New Local Law Restricts Tobacco Retail Locations Near Schools and Parks
A new local ordinance set to take effect on Oct. 1, 2023 restricts the placement of new tobacco retail locations near schools and public parks in the City of Syracuse. Mayor Ben Walsh signed the measure on Sep. 15, 2023.
The new law does not impact current locations that are in compliance with city permitting requirements; however, it caps the number of available tobacco retail licenses and sets a licensing approval policy that will reduce tobacco retail locations in the city in the future.
The city’s new regulation requires sellers of tobacco products, electronic smoking devices, and other products covered under the Adolescent Tobacco Use Prevention Act to maintain a city tobacco retail license.
To reduce the number of tobacco sellers over time, new locations will be approved only when two existing licenses have expired or been revoked. New locations within 750 feet of a school or public park will not be approved, and new retailers cannot be located within 750 feet of an existing license holder.
“During our review of the ordinance we received strong support from public and private health organizations. I also thank the Common Council for its unanimous support for the law,” Walsh said, adding that, “This is a matter of public health. Our goals are to reduce the number of individuals of all ages who use tobacco products and electronic smoking devices and, importantly, to stop the sale of these products to minors.”
The health of our community is on the line and these requirements will allow Syracuse officials to know where tobacco products are being sold and give officials stronger oversight through regular compliance checks,” said American Heart Association Community Impact Director Brittany Taylor. “Passing strong tobacco retailer licensing laws is a step toward health equity and is in the best interest of the children of Syracuse’s health.”
Tobacco-Free CNY Program Coordinator Karyn Johnson said, “The location and density of tobacco retailers influence tobacco use among residents… The average age of a new smoker is 13 years old. Studies have shown that the higher the number of tobacco retailers, the more exposure to tobacco marketing occurs, making youth more likely to experiment with tobacco use. This marketing is prominently displayed, and the concentration of advertising is often higher in retailers close to schools and youth establishments; 34 tobacco retailers in the City of Syracuse are within 750 feet of a K-12 school. Tobacco retail licensing is a powerful tool for the community to shape its retail environment to reflect community values. Retail licensing furthers the objective to prevent disease and promote health and health equity.”