$13 A Pack? NYC Mayor Wants To Raise Cigarette Cost

Brittany BishopApr 22, 2017

New York City may soon adopt some of the strictest measures in the country to curb smoking, including raising the price of a pack of cigarettes to the highest in the country and reducing the number of retailers allowed to legally sell cigarettes.

Casting tobacco companies as "public enemy #1", Mayor de Blasio announced a series of measures to limit the sale of tobacco around the city at a press conference yesterday.

But the move also drew attention to another issue in the city - sales of bootleg cigarettes from other states that allow smokers in NY to bypass taxes and buy cigarettes for as little as $7 or $8 a pack.

Currently, there are 8,200 licensed cigarette retailers citywide, which could be reduced by 40 percent in 10 years through not granting new licenses once a bodega closes. The bill also proposed the reduction in the tobacco retailer numbers via attrition. He said he's not anxious about new tobacco regulations.

One of the bills that will be introduced to the City Council next week will raise the price floor on cigarette and small cigar packs, and introduce one for other tobacco products sold in the city.

The immediate impact of de Blasio's announcement on tobacco bonds issued by the New York City couldn't be determined. This proximity to cigarette shops is likely promoting the habit among school-going children. Presently, around 550 pharmacies sell cigarettes in NYC.

Leaders framed the initiative as one of the biggest drives to reduce smoking in the city since Mayor Michael Bloomberg worked to ban cigarettes in bars and restaurants.

The proposal also advocates the creation of a retail license for e-cigarettes, as well as limiting the number of sellers. It was largely due to his regulations that adult smokers among New Yorkers decreased from 21.5 percent in 2002 to 14 percent in 2012.

Diaz, an ally of the mayor's foe Gov. Cuomo, has taken plenty of shots at de Blasio - and for a while was coy about possibly mounting a primary challenge that never materialized.

"Now I wanna be clear what we're up against: a multibillion dollar industry, a very strong industry, a very agile industry that should have been long ago knocked back on its heels but they keep coming back in new ways and that's why we have to go at this problem with a whole variety of tools and we have to be very, very aggressive", de Blasio continued.

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