The legislation raises the minimum prices for cigarette packs to $13, and will impose a new 10 percent tax on other tobacco items. It was signed into law by Mayor Bill de Blasio last week.
Cigarette smoking is nothing short of a public health crisis hiding in plain view. It not only impacts the user, but those around them through secondhand smoke, which can even travel through apartments to harm your neighbor.
There’s always going to be frustration over a new tax, but raising the price of cigarettes has proven to be a deterrent. As prices have risen in the past few years, smoking rates have declined from 21.5 percent in 2002 to 14.3 percent in 2015.
Former smokers know how difficult it is to quit, but when it becomes almost financially impossible to sustain your smoking habit, then you really are left with no choice.
There’s also more government assistance available than ever before to help individuals kick the habit. Eligible New Yorkers can qualify for individualized coaching and a free starter kit. Many insurance plans now cover smoking cessation assistance.
The bill may financially hit low-income New Yorkers the hardest, however it’s also the community that’s hit the hardest by the deadly product because of their lack of high-quality healthcare options.
The plan will also cap and reduce the number of tobacco retailers citywide, making it significantly less convenient to pick up cigarettes.
There will understandably be blowback from retailers that rely on the revenue from cigarettes to make their business sustainable, but nobody should be able to make a living off dealing something so deadly.