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Tobacco

Which U.S. City Will Have the Highest Cigarette Tax?

New minimum-price law to set price per pack to at least $13

NEW YORK -- New York City will soon have the unique honor of being the most expensive U.S. city in which to buy cigarettes.

On Aug. 28, Mayor Bill de Blasio signed into law the city’s new minimum-pricing policy, which means the price of a pack of cigarettes will go up to at least $13 from $10.50—a 24% price increase—effective June 1, 2018, according to CBS News. This will make New York the most expensive place in the U.S. to buy cigarettes, according to CBS News, which cited city health-department statistics.

The law also tacked on a 10% tax increase on tobacco products other than cigarettes.

As part of a larger series of measures to reduce smoking in the city, the law also prohibits pharmacies from selling cigarettes, creates a new licensing fee for sellers of electronic cigarettes (almost double that of tobacco retailers at $200) and imposes smoking restrictions on apartment buildings, according to Bloomberg News.

The measures represent the city’s most aggressive public-health push against tobacco use since former Mayor Michael Bloomberg instituted a series of smoking bans in workplaces—including bars, restaurants and nightclubs—beginning in 2003, according to Bloomberg News. Former Mayor Bloomberg credited the anti-tobacco measures in his administration for increasing the average life expectancy in New York by three years during the 12 years in which the policies were in effect. (The former mayor is founder and majority owner of Bloomberg News' parent, Bloomberg LP.)

Brittany Adams, a spokeswoman for RAI Services Co., a subsidiary of tobacco company Reynolds American Inc., Winston-Salem, N.C., told Bloomberg News that the mayor’s policy would only increase contraband cigarette sales.

“This ordinance will most likely only further exacerbate the illicit trade of cigarettes,” Adams said.

Richmond, Va.-based Altria Group Inc., which sells Marlboro, didn’t immediately have a comment on the price increase, Bloomberg reported.

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