$13 a pack? NYC mayor wants highest cigarette prices in US

Bill de Blasio, Mayor of New York City, announced a five-pronged package of proposed bills, which among other aspects, advocates that the base price of a pack of cigarettes be increased to $13.

The proposal, known as INT-1544 and sponsored by Councilman Corey D. Johnson, seeks to raise the minimum price on a pack of cigarettes from $10.50 to $13, while smokeless tobacco and shisha packages would be set at $8 and $17, respectively. Chicago has the highest taxes for cigarettes at $6.16 per pack, followed by New York City at $5.85 per pack.

Speaking Wednesday at the American Heart Association's offices in Manhattan, de Blasio said he hopes to sign five anti-tobacco bills this year, toward a larger effort to cut the number of smokers in the city by 120,000 from the current 900,000 by 2020.

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. "These companies have used the same playbook for decades, and we can no longer sit by while the next generation becomes addicted", said Mayor Bill de Blasio".

Opponents of the city's high cigarette prices have argued that it has pushed many smokers into buying untaxed, unregulated cigarettes on the black market.


The city's health committee will review the bills on April 27. The measure would also update the cigarette retailer license to include all tobacco products, so they would be included in the ban on selling in pharmacies.

Many argue that increases on cigarette prices are regressive, meaning they disproportionately weigh on the poor and underprivileged. He said that he has quit and gotten back into it multiple times-calling his experience "hard"-and noted the physical effects of nicotine as well as the "mental vice that it grips you in".

Get free real-time news alerts from the New York City Patch. New York State is No. 1 in terms of cigarette smuggling.

Cheyenne Alexander of the Bronx said she wasn't concerned about the mayor's initiative because she is going to quit smoking, but added that she pays $8 a pack for cigarettes. Now those were the good ol' days of NY.

Stores selling cigarettes and e-cigarettes would also be banned from delivering cigarettes, tobacco products and e-cigarettes.


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