Smokers, get yourself to the bodega. Starting tomorrow, cigs sold in the city will top $9 dollars a pack. The Health Department reports that the 62-cent tax increase will push the cost of cigarettes here — already the most expensive in the nation since last June — to more than $250 a month for those that smoke a pack a day.
Paternalism aside, the city claims this measure will force 20,000 more New Yorkers to quit smoking, and will prevent 6,000 premature deaths. Today the city claims 300,000 fewer adult smokers than in 2002 — which it says is related to the price increases. The decrease in high school and teenage smoking has also been particularly dramatic, say health officials.
For years, New Yorkers have been fussing over Bloomberg’s smoking bans and price hikes and finding underground ways to smoke socially.
But then again, the folks who find the new price annoying are still better off (or worse off, depending on who you ask) than the New Yorkers who simply can’t afford to smoke anymore. If that disadvantages poor people, the mayor doesn’t seem to mind.