Golden weighs in on de Blasio’s anti-smoking initiatives
Fears Raising the Cost of Tobacco Will Flood the Streets With Illegal Cigarettes
The old saying goes, “Smoke ‘em if you got ‘em,” but getting cigarettes will certainly cost you a lot more, thanks to a series of anti-smoking initiatives proposed by Mayor Bill de Blasio last week. The hope is that raising the cost for a pack of cigarettes to $13 will discourage people from buying tobacco products. De Blasio’s new initiatives will set minimum prices for cigarettes and create taxes on other kinds of tobacco products such as small cigars and smokeless tobacco.
According to the report from the office of the mayor, de Blasio’s goal is to reduce the city’s 900,000 smokers by 160,000. Around 12,000 New Yorkers die each year from smoking related illnesses including cancer and heart disease.
State Sen. Marty Golden feels that a key component is missing from de Blasio’s anti-smoking proposal. “It is disappointing to see that Mayor de Blasio’s proposal aimed at reducing tobacco use in New York City fails to address the underground cigarette industry,” said Golden. “If this plan is truly about reducing smoking and saving lives, we must intensify our efforts at both the city and state level to get our untaxed, illegal cigarettes off the streets.”
Golden would like to expand anti-smoking efforts throughout the five boroughs. “I continue to advocate for legislation that will increase the penalties for the sale of bootleg cigarettes coming to New York from other states and Indian reservations,” noted Golden. “It is critical that the state Assembly follow the Senate and pass legislation this year, that I sponsored, that would create a special task force targeting untaxed cigarettes funded by the recovered state tax revenue. At a minimum of $13 per pack, there is no doubt in my mind that illegal cigarettes will flood New York City streets.”
New York has the highest cost for a pack of cigarettes in the nation and neighboring states could stand to benefit. A pack of cigarettes in New Jersey cost around $8, but in many of the southern states a pack of cigarettes can be purchased for $5 or $6, half of what a pack would cost in New York.
Golden added, “The mayor’s plan to raise the price of a pack of cigarettes will only strengthen the black market cigarette industry. The addition of more illegitimate cigarettes to our city and state puts New York in a position to lose even more tax revenue and fails to reduce smoking. The focus should be on cracking down on the sale of illegal cigarettes, which can bring down the number of smokers in New York, and will additionally prevent this money from being funneled to support organized crime and terrorist organizations.”
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