Monday, 25 September, 2017

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

Not Released The current base price for a pack of cigarettes in the five boroughs is $10.50
Sammy Stanley | 21 April, 2017, 00:12

Mayor Bill de Blasio hand delivered Thursday a Pre-K acceptance letter to a child in Brooklyn.

The proposed tax hike is meant to reduce the number of smokers in New York City by 160,000 over the next three years. That would make NY home to the costliest cigarettes in the country.

If it had come in the form of a tax, perhaps the money could have been used to dig a giant hole in which to throw people who go outside to smoke only to puff away in front of a huge open window, or to create a series of wind turbines outside every office building in New York City so you can enter without contracting second-hand emphysema.

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

The plan includes not only the proposed price floor hike, but also four other platform points: "reducing through attrition the number of tobacco retailers citywide", "creating a retail license for e-cigarettes, and capping the number of e-cigarette retailers", "requiring all residential buildings to create a smoking policy and disclosing it to both current and prospective tenants", "and banning the sale of tobacco products at pharmacies".

A spokesman at Altria Group, the Richmond, Va. -based parent company to cigarette maker Philip Morris, said it is reviewing the proposal. Altria Group, which sells Marlboro brand cigarettes in the USA, reported on Feb.1 its domestic shipment volume declined about 3.5 percent in 2016, in line with its competitors.

"There are 29 times more tobacco retailers in New York City than there are Starbucks", de Blasio said. California's tax rose this month to $2.83, making the price of a brand-name pack around $8.

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. When the federal government raised cigarette taxes 62-cents-a pack in 2009, sales fell 9.2 percent.

"We resent the fact that the administration and the City Council are trying to attack law-abiding retailers when the real problem is on the streets", said James Calvin, president of the New York Association of Convenience Stores. Brittany Adams, a Reynolds American spokeswoman, declined to comment.

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