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

Posted April 20, 2017

Mayor Bill de Blasio holds up examples of old and new smoking advertisements during a press conference to announce a series of bills to reduce the number of smokers in the city, April 19, 2017. The city now has about 900,000 smokers, including about 15,000 youths. He said he's not anxious about new tobacco regulations.

Other measures that were proposed to the council on Wednesday include a ban on selling tobacco at pharmacies across the city, stricter regulations on e-cigarettes and a new "smoking disclosure policy", which will require residential building owners to disclose whether or not smoking is permitted in their units.

"We are here today talking about advancing the health and well-being of all New Yorkers, saving lives, preventing tobacco-related illnesses, saving money because these preventable illnesses are costly to care for", Bassett said. "We are going to change that by capping the number of licenses available in each community", de Blasio said.

Officials also described e-cigarettes as a "gateway" to smoking traditional cigarettes and said legislation would cap the number of stores that could sell the products.

Many argue that increases on cigarette prices are regressive, meaning they disproportionately weigh on the poor and underprivileged. Roughly 900,000 city adults smoke along with 15,000 high school students, according to the Department of Health.

Bootlegging of cigarettes (and alcohol, also highly taxed in New York) costs the state almost $2 billion in tax revenue each year.

"I think the speed with which the e-cigarette grew is part of the issue here", de Blasio said.

Mayor Bill de Blasio and a group of City Council members are determined to make New Yorkers quit smoking, one way or another. There is no evidence to suggest that any deaths can be attributed to e-cigarette use.

Contrary to the public health concerns that Cabrera raised, the same report said that the interest of public health is served by working to "promote the use of e-cigarettes, NRT and other non-tobacco nicotine products as widely as possible as a substitute for smoking in the United Kingdom".