The city’s estimated 900,000 smokers are going to have to dig deeper in their pockets. Mayor Bill de Blasio signed several bills to reduce the number of smokers, including raising the price of cigarettes to $13.
The bills also increase the cigarette licensing fee for retailers, force landlords to institute a residential disclosure policy, prohibit smoking in common areas and, for the first time, create a retail license for e-cigarettes.
Smoking and African Americans
According to the CDC, tobacco use is a major contributor to the three leading causes of death among African Americans—heart disease, cancer and stroke. Diabetes is the fourth leading cause of death among African Americans. The risk of developing diabetes is 30–40% higher for cigarette smokers than nonsmokers.
New York City now has the highest cigarette prices in the nation. The national average for a a pack of cigarettes is just under $6. Missouri has the lowest average cigarette price at just $4 a pack.
“Even though tobacco is a leading cause of premature death across the country, Big Tobacco will stop at nothing to hook people on these deadly products,” said de Blasio. “We are sending a loud and clear message that we will not let their greed kill any more New Yorkers without a fight. These new laws will not only help reduce the number of smokers in our city, but also save lives.”
The cigarette hike could increase the sale of reduced-priced, black-market cigarettes (sold as “loosies”) on the street and at retailers. New York City Sheriff Joseph Fucito states that untaxed cigarettes come from out of state. He plans to enforce inspections, audits, fines and seizures to curb the sale of illegal cigarettes.