$13 a pack? NYC mayor wants highest cigarette prices in US

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Mayor de Blasio at the press conference announcing the anti-tobacco measures.

Mayor Bill de Blasio said this week he wants to raise the minimum price of cigarettes to $13 a pack, making New York City far and away the most expensive place to buy some smokes in the country, according to the New York Times.

De Blasio did say at the press conference that since the city can't levy its own taxes, the money from the increased prices on tobacco products would go to the people selling them.

De Blasio announced his support Wednesday for a series of legislative proposals created to drastically cut tobacco use in the city by the year 2020. An estimated 900,000 New York City residents now smoke.

The proposed tax hike is meant to reduce the number of smokers in New York City by 160,000 over the next three years. The bills will be reviewed by the City Council's Health Committee on April 27.

Under the package of bills, the city's cigarettes would rise to $13 per pack from $10.50. According to the press release, there are also 174,000 adults and 42,000 adolescents using e-cigarettes in New York City. Download the WFMY News 2 App now.

According to a representative of the American Cancer Society interviewed by the New York Times after the study was released, those in the less than $30,000 per year income bracket paid 39 percent of all city and state taxes on cigarettes. That's where kids get cigarettes.

Many argue that increases on cigarette prices are regressive, meaning they disproportionately weigh on the poor and underprivileged.

Smokers stopped on the street Wednesday bore that out.

"New York in particular, I mean, people have just grown accustomed to the insane prices they are already are at", Ali said.

Jacob Jacobson, who was smoking a cigarette on Lexington Avenue, said he commutes from the Pocono Mountains in Pennsylvania and buys his cigarettes there for about $8 a pack. "We want to make it easier to quit and harder to smoke".

Syed Alamgir Hashan, who works at the BJ Newspapers store, agreed.

A spokesman at Altria Group, the Richmond, Va. -based parent company to cigarette maker Philip Morris, said it is reviewing the proposal.



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