A tough new anti-smoking law is now on the books, giving the federal government sweeping power over how cigarettes are made, packaged, and sold. NY1's Thalia Patillo was in Greenwich Village Monday night getting reaction on the new law from local smokers.
President Barack Obama signed an anti-smoking bill Monday, which he says he hopes will keep kids from getting hooked on cigarettes.
"I started smoking at a very young age, so to limit the advertisements that kids can see, that would be a really good thing," said one city smoker.
Obama cited his own battle with cigarettes as he signed the most far-reaching tobacco legislation ever.
"It will force these companies to more clearly and publicly acknowledge the harmful and deadly effects of the products they sell," said the president. "And it will allow the scientists at the Food and Drug Administration to take other common sense steps to reduce the harmful effects of smoking."
The new law rewrites the rule book on cigarette packaging and advertising. It bans tobacco advertisements near schools and playgrounds, and prohibits companies from marketing tobacco products with candy and fruit flavors.
In addition, warning labels will now have to cover 50 percent of the front and back of a pack, and they'll be more aggressive and intimidating, similar to the way they are in other countries.
Phillip Gillingham, a tourist from Australia, says he's seen warning labels in other countries that carry stark photographic images.
"There is a picture of a deceased man getting an autopsy and he's got black lungs," said Gillingham. "I remember one that has a little dead baby on it from smoking cigarettes while pregnant can cause abortions and all that sort of stuff. It's pretty intimidating."
The city has already issued graphic anti-smoking ads on Mayor Michael Bloomberg's watch, and the mayor is praising the federal government for getting on board.
Critics say the new law is too intrusive, and that the FDA is not up to the job of regulating tobacco. But anti-smoking advocates see it as a triumph, and many New Yorkers who spoke with NY1 said they agreed.
"Smoking is bad," said a New Yorker. "I smoke. Smoking is bad."
The first changes in advertising and packaging of tobacco products will be seen in 2010.