Aug. 11 (UPI) — The New York City Council voted this week to raise the minimum price of a pack of cigarettes to $13 and banned their sales in pharmacies.
The minimum price for a pack of cigarettes in the Big Apple is currently $10.50, while the average price is $11.23.
By raising the price even further, city health officials believe more people will stop smoking.
“As bargain cigarettes are forced to increase prices, we speculate that premium brands may increase their prices too to maintain separation from the lower tier of the market,” Department of Health spokesman Christopher Miller said.
But not every lawmaker approved of the legislation. The bill passed 33 to 9. Councilman Steve Levin, a former smoker, voted against it because smoking addicts will be hit harder “in the pocketbook.”
“I know how difficult it can be to quit and there are a lot of people who would love to quit and are unable to do so,” he told Newsday.
The cigarette price hike was one of seven bills passed by lawmakers aimed at reducing the use of tobacco in the city. In addition to the minimum price increase, there will be an additional 10 percent tax on all non-cigarette tobacco products, a cap on tobacco retailers, a rise in the cost for a tobacco-selling license.
Lawmakers are also imposing restrictions on e-cigarettes by requiring a license to sell them and including them in areas where smoking is banned.