NYC moves to raise cigarette costs to nation's highest

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De Blasio is backing an effort to force people to quit smoking by raising the city's current legal minimum price of a pack from $10.50, further cementing New York City's claim on having among the most expensive cigarettes in the country.

The bill, from Council Member Johnson, would raise the price of a pack of cigarettes from $10.50 to $13, which the mayor's office claims will lower the percentage of adults who smoke from 14.3 percent to 13.9 percent.

The goal, according to the Mayor, is to reduce the number of smokers by 160,000 people by 2020. An estimated 900,000 New York City residents now smoke.

The mayor says he also wants to license and cap tobacco sellers and e-cigarette retailers. But he said smoking is addictive and it's going to take more than a higher price to make smokers quit.

"We are going to change that by capping the number of licenses available in each community", de Blasio said. A study published a year ago in the British Medical Journal found that e-cigarettes helped increase the chances of people quitting smoking and staying smoke free for a longer period of time.

The Times story does not indicate that the price increase will come in the form of a tax, which means retailers would actually get to keep the extra cigarette money once the price goes up.

According to a representative of the American Cancer Society interviewed by the New York Times after the study was released, those in the less than $30,000 per year income bracket paid 39 percent of all city and state taxes on cigarettes.

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". The city in 2013 also raised the age to buy cigarettes from 18 to 21.

The other two bills will prohibit pharmacies from selling tobacco products and require landlords to create a smoking policy for the entire building and disclose it to tenants, although it doesn't require that they turn the buildings into no-smoking buildings.