The minimum price for a pack of cigarettes purchased in New York City will jump to $13 next June — a 25 percent increase — as part of a package of bills aimed at reducing tobacco consumption that was signed into law Monday by Mayor Bill de Blasio.
De Blasio, speaking at a bill signing ceremony in Brooklyn, said the seven bills approved by the City Council earlier this month look to reduce the city’s number of smokers by 17 percent — or 160,000 users — by the end of 2020. There are currently 900,000 smokers in the city, according to data provided by the mayor’s office.
“When we think about the health of New Yorkers big tobacco is public enemy number one,” de Blasio said before signing the bills at the Kings County Hospital, where he was flanked by top city health and human services officials.
De Blasio called the proposals “life-saving bills,” noting that 12,000 city residents died last year from diseases linked to smoking including cancer and pneumonia.
The package of bills includes a ban on cigarette sales in pharmacies that will go into effect January 2019 and a 10-percent tax on other tobacco products, such as cigars and loose tobacco, that will be imposed starting June 1, 2018.
Councilman Corey Johnson (D-Manhattan), who serves as chairman of the City Council’s health committee said the tax hike and cigarette price increase will generate $1 million annually that will be directed to public housing programs.
Other measures set to go into effect in February include boosting the cost of a cigarette-selling license and mandating licenses for electronic cigarette dealers. The city will also expand its existing ban of smoking in common residential spaces to e-cigarettes starting February.
Tobacco vendors, including a coalition of bodega owners, have spoken out against the measure, arguing it will cut into their business and drive smokers to purchase their products from the black market or out-of-state.