Lawmakers raise minimum price of cigarettes, slash number of tobacco sellers

A man smokes a cigarette on May 9, 2015 in Paris. AFP PHOTO / KENZO TRIBOUILLARD (Photo credit should read KENZO TRIBOUILLARD/AFP/Getty Images)

NEW YORK — The City Council took a major step toward snuffing out smoking habits Wednesday.

Lawmakers passed legislation designed to hike the minimum price of a pack by $2.50, slash the number of tobacco sellers and ban the sale of cigarettes in pharmacies. The bills are waiting for Mayor Bill de Blasio’s signature.

The seven bills are designed to make it harder to access tobacco products and reduce the number of smokers citywide.

“New York City has driven smoking rates to historic lows and protected our communities from secondhand smoke,” said American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network spokesperson Michael Davoli. “Once enacted, these seven bills will once again put New York City in the forefront of protecting its residents, workers and visitors from putting their lives and health at risk.”

Here’s a breakdown of the bills:

  1. Minimum tobacco price and non-cigarette tobacco tax: The bill would increase the minimum price of cigarettes from $10.50 to $13. It would also establish a 10 percent tax on all non-cigarette tobacco products.
  2. Retailer cap: This bill would cut the number of retailers licensed to sell tobacco products in half
  3. Tobacco-free pharmacies: This bill would stop pharmacies from selling cigarettes or tobacco products. Some pharmacies have already taken this step on their own.
  4. Retail license fee increase: This bill would raise the licensing fee for selling cigarettes. It would nearly double from $110 to $200.
  5. Electronic cigarette license creation: This bill would require sellers of e-cigarettes to get a license
  6. Smoking Policy Disclosure: This bill would require rental apartment buildings, co-ops and condo buildings to create a smoking policy
  7. Prohibit smoking in multi-dwellings: This bill would prohibit smoking in the common areas of buildings with fewer than 10 units.
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