Cigarette Prices To Spike In NYC

By Britni de la Cretaz 08/31/17

New legislation has been signed to raise the price and reduce the number of places that sell cigarettes.

person lighting a cigarette.

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio signed legislation that seeks to reduce the number of smokers in the city by 160,000 by the year 2020. The bill increases the minimum price of a pack of cigarettes to $13—the highest in the country.

It also institutes a 10% tax on other tobacco products, which will go to public housing. Pharmacies will no longer to able to sell cigarettes, and the legislation also cuts in half the number of retailers licensed to sell butts over 10 years.

While signing the bill at Kings County Hospital this week, the New York Daily News reports that de Blasio declared Big Tobacco “public enemy number one.” Of the pharmacy ban, de Blasio said, “A place where you go for healthcare should not be selling you deadly products.”

New York City is not the only place hiking the price of cigarettes in an effort to reduce smoking rates. In April, the state of California’s Proposition 56 went into effect, hiking the price of a pack of smokes by $2. When the price increase began, some long-term smokers told The Mercury News that it seemed like a good time to quit. The new tax money from the California price hike goes to Medi-Cal, which provides health coverage to low-income California residents.

Based on a review of available evidence, the Surgeon General has said that raising prices on cigarettes is “one of the most effective tobacco control interventions,” saying it is proven to reduce smoking, especially among kids, according to the Campaign For Tobacco-Free Kids.

In 2013, Minnesota's governor signed legislation to increase cigarette taxes in the state, also with the goal of preventing kids from smoking. According to a press release at the time the bill was signed, “research shows that raising the price of tobacco is a proven method to reduce both adult and youth smoking.” The hope was that the legislation would “prevent more than 47,700 kids from becoming addicted adult smokers.”

The minimum price hike in NYC goes into effect June 1, 2018, and the pharmacy ban on January 1, 2019. The New York Daily News reports that while signing the bill, de Blasio told the crowd, “Our first job in public service is to protect human life and right now, cynically a lot of folks are being attracted to tobacco products by millions and millions of dollars in advertising, and it's causing a profound danger to their lives.”

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Britni de la Cretaz is a freelance writer, baseball enthusiast, and recovered alcoholic living in Boston. Follow her on Twitter at @britnidlc.