The price of a pack of cigarettes has skyrocketed in New York City, while the number of places they are available for sale is set to fall.
New York Mayor Bill de Blasio on Monday signed a sweeping series of anti-smoking bills, part of a comprehensive effort to help reduce the number of smokers in the city by nearly 200,000 over the next few years.
“We are sending a loud and clear message that we will not let their greed kill any more New Yorkers without a fight,” de Blasio said at a bill-signing ceremony at a Brooklyn hospital. “These new laws will not only help reduce the number of smokers in our city, but also save lives.”
The minimum price for a pack of cigarettes will jump from $10.50 to $13, the highest base price for cigarettes in the nation, de Blasio said.
New York health officials hope that with brands forced to charge at least $13 for the cheapest pack, premium brands will also raise their prices to maintain separation from lower-tier smokes.
The planned price hike is one of seven bills aimed at pressuring the city’s 900,000 estimated smokers to quit.
Another new rule will reduce by half the number of retailers licensed to sell tobacco products. About 8,300 businesses now have a license. The numbers will be reduced through attrition, officials said.
Philadelphia and San Francisco have similar licensing restrictions.
Other laws will ban the sale of all tobacco products in pharmacies, require licensing of e-cigarette retailers, and require all residential buildings to have smoking policies that are given to all current and prospective tenants. Some residential buildings will be required to ban smoking in common areas such as hallways.
Opponents of the price increase say it may push many smokers into buying untaxed, unregulated cigarettes on the black market.