For NYC smokers, $13 pack proposed

Posted: April 21, 2017 at 2:56 a.m.

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio and the City Council have proposed raising the minimum price of pack of cigarettes to $13, reducing the number of tobacco retailers and banning the sale of tobacco products at more than 550 pharmacies.

The city legislative package is projected to reduce the number of smokers in the most populous U.S. city by 160,000 over the next three years. Tobacco kills an estimated 12,000 people annually in New York City.

“When it comes to New Yorker’s health, big tobacco is public enemy #1,” de Blasio said in a news release. “We can no longer sit by while the next generation becomes addicted.”

De Blasio, a Democrat running for re-election in November, is following the lead of his predecessor, Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who raised tobacco taxes and banned smoking in public places, an effort to improve public health that was adopted by municipalities across the U.S. Bloomberg, an independent, is founder and majority owner of Bloomberg News parent Bloomberg LP.

If adopted, the legislative package, which also caps the number of e-cigarette retailers and requires apartment buildings to adopt and disclose smoking policies, may curb returns on about $1.5 billion of bonds issued by New York City repaid with payments from tobacco companies under a 1998 settlement. Settlement payments are based on cigarette shipments.

Raising the minimum price of cigarettes to $13 from $10.50 per pack may lead to a 6.4 percent decline in adult cigarette smoking, according to de Blasio. Altria Group, which sells Marlboro brand cigarettes in the U.S., reported on Feb.1 that its domestic shipment volume declined about 3.5 percent in 2016, in line with its competitors.