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

As part of an aggressive initiative to reduce smoking and tobacco use in New York City, Mayor Bill de Blasio has announced five legislative proposals, including one that would add on a new to tax premium cigars.

Speaking at the American Heart Association in Midtown, Hizzoner announced a package of five bills that included raising the minimum price to what he called the highest in the country.

"There are 29 times more tobacco retailers in New York City than there are Starbucks", de Blasio said. "We can no longer sit by while the next generation becomes addicted".

In the same press release, Department of Consumer Affairs Commissioner Lorelei Salas admitted that the goal of the legislation was to make it harder to get nicotine products. Though figures are hard to nail down-black markets, being what they are-stats suggest that more than half of all cigarettes are being sold illegally and untaxed in NY.

Officials also described e-cigarettes as a "gateway" to smoking traditional cigarettes and said legislation would cap the number of stores that could sell the products.

In addition, the increased prices on tobacco will increase the opportunity for black market cigarette dealers. People who want to obtain cigarettes will simply buy them on the street or they will buy them elsewhere and bring them into New York City.

Staten Island has 402 cigarette retailers with licenses, according to the mayor's office. "This is an important first step in protecting the health and safety of New Yorkers".

Stores selling cigarettes and e-cigarettes would also be banned from delivering cigarettes, tobacco products and e-cigarettes. New York State leads the nation when it comes to cigarette smuggling and 55.5% of cigarettes smoked in the state in 2014 came from smuggled sources, according to a study published in January by the non-profit Tax Foundation. Other anti-smoking measures de Blasio supports include banning pharmacies from selling cigarettes, requiring a license to sell e-cigarettes, and restricting licenses to sell cigarettes to half the current number.

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