Mayor de Blasio at the press conference announcing the anti-tobacco measures. (Via the Mayor’s Office)
Casting tobacco companies as “public enemy #1,” Mayor de Blasio announced a series of measures to limit the sale of tobacco around the city at a press conference yesterday.
Five different anti-tobacco bills will be introduced by City Council Members Corey Johnson, Brad Lander, Fernando Cabrera and Ritchie Torres. The purpose of the legislation is to bring the percentage of tobacco smokers in the city down to 12 percent of the population, according to the mayor’s office.
One of the bills that will be introduced to the City Council next week will raise the price floor on cigarette and small cigar packs, and introduce one for other tobacco products sold in the city. The bill, from Council Member Johnson, would raise the price of a pack of cigarettes from $10.50 to $13, which the mayor’s office claims will lower the percentage of adults who smoke from 14.3 percent to 13.9 percent. The bill will also impose a 10 percent tax on tobacco products like shisha, chewing tobacco and loose tobacco, which the mayor says will raise $1 million per year that will be set aside for public housing.
A bill from Council Member Lander seeks to cut down on the number of licensed tobacco retailers around the city. The bill caps the amount of licenses to sell tobacco products in every community district at 50 percent of the current number of licensed dealers, with no new licenses given out in a district until the number drops below the target number. A separate license will also be created for e-cigarette retailers under a bill introduced by Council Member Cabrera. That bill puts a cap on the number of licensed e-cigarette vendors, and also requires no new licenses to be given out after the open enrollment period for these licenses.
The bill to cap the number of e-cigarette dealers in the city “is a major step to limit the use of e-cigarettes, which are dangerous nicotine delivery systems that can lead to nicotine and potentially drug addiction,” said Council Member Cabrera.
The other two bills will prohibit pharmacies from selling tobacco products and require landlords to create a smoking policy for the entire building and disclose it to tenants, although it doesn’t require that they turn the buildings into no-smoking buildings.
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. However, he also said that the price increase tamps down demand for cigarettes, so he was “at peace” with the money going to retailers. The mayor also vowed that the city would be looking at regulating hookah bars more closely going forward, so you’d better get out and enjoy them while you can, NYU kids:
“We need to act on that next”: @NYCMayor @BilldeBlasio on his plans for stricter regulation of NYC’s hookah bars. pic.twitter.com/YuI9orXTK3
— Matthew Chayes (@chayesmatthew) April 19, 2017