The price of a pack of cigarettes in the City of New York is going up to $13 a pack. That means pack per day smokers will be spending $400 a month on cigarettes. That’s a lot of money. That’s a care payment for a very nice car. In fact that is getting into $5,000 dollar a year territory! Ouch! The new price will go into effect on Jun 1, 2018 and will make New York the most expensive place in the country to buy cigarettes.
New York City’s cigarette price hike will raise the minimum price form $10.50 t0 $13. Mayor Bill de Blasio wants the city’s 900,000 current smokers to kick the habit. Of course that is easier said than done. It is difficult for non-smokers to understand the battle with nicotine withdrawal symptoms. And unfortunately, the city and state have no been particularly friendly toward vaping. The good news is that a recent New York State government proposal for an e-cig tax failed. But they will probably try again.
The increase in cigarette prices is one of the measures introduced by New York City. Retailers that sell tobacco will also have to be licensed. The city is looking to reduce the number of locations where cigarettes are sold. Pharmacies will no longer be allowed to sell cigarettes. In addition, residential buildings will be required to ban smoking in common areas. As far as we can tell those bans include vaping.
New York Cigarette Price Increase Cons
Everyone agrees that we want to see smoking eradicated. There is no doubt that smoking is terribly harmful to human health. But are huge price increases the best way to get there? The city expects that the price increase will reduce the city’s smoking rate from 14.3% to 12% by 2020. Sounds plausible. If something becomes prohibitively expensive demand should decrease. Critics are not so sure.
Critics of the price increase say that many smokers will be driven into the black market tobacco trade. In New York, they call them ‘butt leggers’. Will desperate smokers be criminalized? Are their criminals in New York right now looking at this price increase and seeing an opportunity? A spokesperson for Reynolds American said that this measure will probably increase the illicit cigarette trade in New York city.
Jim Calvin is the president of the New York Association of Convenience Stores. Mr. Calvin said “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 illegal settings.” Now you might say, of course he will say that, he wants his stores to make money from cigarettes. That may be true but it does not make him wrong.
If there is a large increase in the illicit cigarette trade in New York, that will only make it easier for kids to get their hands on cigarettes. Butt leggers don’t check for ID. Illegal cigarette dealers will sell to anyone.
Time will tell how the New York cigarette price increase will play out. There is optimism that smoking rates will be decreased and there is concern about increasing access to illegal cigarettes.