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Cigarette Packs Could Cost At Least $13 Apiece Under New Legislation

By Ben Fractenberg | April 19, 2017 5:43pm
 Mayor Bill de Blasio holds up examples of old and new smoking advertisements during a press conference to announce a series of bills to reduce the number of smokers in the city, April 19, 2017.
Mayor Bill de Blasio holds up examples of old and new smoking advertisements during a press conference to announce a series of bills to reduce the number of smokers in the city, April 19, 2017.
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DNAinfo/Ben Fractenberg

MIDTOWN — Pharmacies will no longer be able to sell tobacco products and the cost of a pack of cigarettes will be at least $13 if a series of bills passes in the City Council, officials announced Wednesday.

The assorted legislation aims to reduce the number of smokers in the city by 160,000 in three years through measures including a ban from selling cigarettes in pharmacies, a price hike, lowering the number of bodegas that can sell cigarettes and regulating e-cigarette sales, according to Mayor Bill de Blasio.

“There’s still too many people who unfortunately end up in the clutches of tobacco and it just has a devastating impact on them,” de Blasio said during a press conference with city officials.

“And big tobacco is public enemy number one when it comes to public health. We have a lot more we have to do.”

Councilmen Corey Johnson, Brad Lander, Fernando Cabrera and Ritchie Torres introduced the bills, which will first be heard by the health committee on April 19 and could all pass by the summer, officials said.

Leaders framed the initiative as one of the biggest drives to reduce smoking in the city since Mayor Michael Bloomberg worked to ban cigarettes in bars and restaurants.

Health Commissioner Mary Bassett said about 14.3 percent of New Yorkers are smokers and these measures would reduce the number to 12 percent.

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.

Currently, there are 8,200 licensed cigarette retailers citywide, which could be reduced by 40 percent in 10 years through not granting new licenses once a bodega closes.

One of the bills would also make it illegal for 550 pharmacies and stores that contain retail pharmacies to sell tobacco products.

The city also recently introduced a ban on smoking in public housing, which worried some tenants about being kicked out of their homes. 

Michael Polzin, a spokesman for Walgreens, which also owns Duane Reade, declined to comment on the legislative package.

A representative for the National Association of Tobacco Outlets declined to comment.