The anti-tobacco moves came in the form of a seven-point package of laws that Mayor Bill de Blasio, D, signed Monday. There are now 900,000 smokers in the city, according to data provided by the mayor's office.
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 almost 200,000 over the next few years.
NY 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 price hike from $10.50 to $13 gives New York City the highest price in the country, the mayor said. The mayor's legislation wants to reduce the more than 900,000 smokers in the city to a historic low of 12 percent. The city also already has the second-highest excise tax rate at $5.85 per pack.
Pharmacies will be prohibited from selling tobacco as their licenses begin to expire in 2018. The new "price floor" for cigars will be $6 plus $1.75 per cigar in a package.
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"We continue this fight against "Big Tobacco" because we're losing thousands of people that we don't need to lose getting hooked on a very unsafe product", de Blasio said before signing the legislation at a public hospital in Brooklyn. The Red Cross in NY also is sending personnel to the region to assist.
According to the statement, smoking rates have dropped to 14.3 percent in 2015 from 21.5 percent in 2002, the year before statewide bans on smoking went into effect.
"These measures will destroy the business investment of retailers who have been leading the effort to prevent youth access to tobacco products, and the result will be lost revenue, lost jobs and an increasing number of sales in unregulated and illegal settings", Jim Calvin, president of the New York Association of Convenience Stores, said after the legislation passed earlier this month. Each carton of untaxed cigarettes will earn a seller a $100 civil penalty, and if it goes unpaid, sheriffs can take the cash from the register, Fucito said, adding there will also be audits to ensure the minimum price law is followed. "These new laws will not only help reduce the number of smokers in our city, but also save lives".
The city is also mandating that apartment buildings of three or more units must create specific smoking policies, while prohibiting smoking in all public areas.