NYC hikes price of pack of cigarettes to $13, highest in US

NEW YORK — New York took a big step toward stamping out smoking habits Monday.

Mayor Bill de Blasio signed legislation raising the minimum price for a pack of cigarettes to $13, the highest in the country. He also slashed the number of tobacco sellers and banned the sale of cigarettes in pharmacies. De Blasio signed off on seven bills designed to reduce the number of smokers citywide.

“Even though tobacco is a leading cause of premature death across the country, Big Tobacco will stop at nothing to hook people on these deadly products,” de Blasio said. “We are sending a loud and clear message that we will not let their greed kill any more New Yorkers without a fight.”

About 10 percent of New Yorkers smoke. The tobacco laws go into effect on June 1.

Health Department officials say the new laws will be extremely beneficial for the health of New Yorkers. The most important thing a smoker can do for his or her health is stop smoking, said Health Commissioner Dr. Mary T. Bassett.

“As a former smoker, I know how hard it is to quit,” Bassett said. “That’s why these laws are so important – they will make it easier for New Yorkers to quit smoking or never start.”

Here’s a breakdown of the new laws:

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