The city targets tobacco sales to give New Yorkers another incentive to quit smoking.
Smoking just got more expensive for New Yorkers.
The health department announced that, starting last Friday, the city is raising the base price of cigarettes to $13, making it the highest price per pack in the country. This new minimum cigarette price, according to the health department, is a central component of the city's tobacco legislation package that aims to reduce the number of smokers in New York City by 160,000 by 2020.
"The cost of cigarettes is rising in New York City, and history shows that higher prices mean fewer smokers," said Health Commissioner Dr. Mary T. Bassett. "I'm thrilled we're back on top with the highest pack price in the United States. Now is a great time to try to quit smoking and our NYC Quits program can help."
Tobacco continues to be a leading contributor to preventable, premature death in New York City, killing an estimated 12,000 people annually. While smoking rates in the city declined from 21.5 percent in 2002 to 13.1 percent in 2016, there are still more than 850,000 New Yorker adults who smoke. Much progress has also been made in decreasing the number of youth who smoke; the number declined by approximately 70 percent between 2001 and 2017. However, according to numbers provided by the health department, there are about 15,000 youth who are still cigarette smokers.
The city states that increasing the price of cigarettes has been shown to prevent youth and adults from starting to smoke and encourages those who do smoke to quit or cut back, and Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams welcomes the hike.
"Cigarettes, like asbestos and processed meats, have been labeled a Group 1 carcinogen by the World Health Organization," said Brooklyn Borough President Eric L. Adams. "Targeting tobacco sales and usage is a critically important way we are helping our city raise healthier children and families."
And the city is eager to help, as campaigns of the recent months show. Just in the beginning of the year, the health department launched its HelpMeQuit App, which includes tips to stop cravings; social support from other people using HelpMeQuit and Facebook friends; connection to existing smoking cessation resources such as the New York State Smokers Quitline and a map of nearby clinics; and in-app games to distract from smoking. The app is available at the Apple or Google Play stores. For more information on how to quit call 311 to find a local quit smoking program or visit nyc.gov and search for "NYC Quits."
It's time to quit, the city says.