NYC has more tobacco retail locations than Starbucks, pizzerias, report says

There are more tobacco retail locations in the city than there are Starbucks and pizzerias combined, according to a new report by the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network.

There are 8,992 licensed tobacco retail outlets throughout the city, according to the report, including 1,542 in the Bronx, 2,725 in Brooklyn, and 2,196 in Manhattan.

“There is an overwhelming oversaturation of licensed tobacco retailers in New York City. And it is making it incredibly difficult for people to quit smoking,” said Michael Davoli, the metro New York director of government relations for ACS CAN. “There’s practically a tobacco retail outlet on every corner in every community. We like to think there’s a Starbucks on every corner in New York City, that’s the joke.”

For the record, there are 307 Starbucks in the city, according to the group, and about 2,500 pizzerias.

The report also found 342 tobacco retailers within 200 feet of a school.

“There’s so many different types of locations from your corner bodega to your drugstore to your big box store,” Davoli said about retailers that sell tobacco. “They’re everywhere.”

It’s not entirely expensive to obtain a tobacco retail license in New York City either. First-time applicants pay a fee between $85 and $110 depending on the time of year, and a license is good for two years, per the Department of Consumer Affairs. 

The ACS CAN called on the city to take several steps, including establishing a cap on licenses and restricting them near areas like schools or playgrounds, as well as restricting the sale of tobacco in pharmacies.

“We appreciate the American Cancer Society’s report,” said the city’s Department of Health spokesman Christopher Miller. “The Health Department is working with the City Council on ways to reduce tobacco use so New Yorkers can lead longer and healthier lives.”

Representatives for the city’s Department of Consumer Affairs did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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