Cigarette smoking leads to health issues like cancer and coronary ailments. A vast majority of people living in the United States are addicted to smoking and health officials are trying to devise new ways to reduce the unhealthy habit.
On Wednesday, April 19, New York City became the latest to join a long list of U.S. cities to propose strict measures to cut tobacco use.
New York City Mayor’s Proposal
Bill de Blasio, Mayor of New York City, announced a five-pronged package of proposed bills, which among other aspects, advocates that the base price of a pack of cigarettes be increased to $13.
Currently, the minimum price of a cigarette pack is $10.50. If the proposed bills are passed, then New York would become the most expensive U.S. city for buying cigarettes. The City Council’s health Committee is slated to review the proposed bills on April 27.
With the $2.50 price hike, the officials are optimistic that they would be able to counter the unhealthy habit effectively. New York City has roughly 900,000 smokers and the program is targeting to reduce this number by 160,000 within 2020.
The Mayor made the announcement at an anti-smoking event and remarked that tobacco was the top “public enemy” in the context of New Yorkers’ health.
“Today, we are taking a stand against these companies to not only reduce smoking and tobacco usage in New York City, but also save lives,” shared de Blasio.
Roughly 12,000 people in New York die each year due to smoking-related illnesses.
Five-Pronged Proposed Bills Package
The proposed bills from de Blasio advocates that the base price for any tobacco product be raised. The bill also proposed the reduction in the tobacco retailer numbers via attrition. Currently, there are around 9,000 licensed tobacco product sellers in New York City and astonishingly, around a third of them are located within 500 feet from a school. This proximity to cigarette shops is likely promoting the habit among school-going children.
The proposal will look to reduce the number of stores from 9,000 to 6,000 over a period of 10 years through attrition.
The proposal also advocates the creation of a retail license for e-cigarettes, as well as limiting the number of sellers. The proposal recommends that all residential building in New York develop a smoking policy. This policy needs to be shared with both existing and future tenants.
The proposal also looks to address the issue of pharmacies selling tobacco products. Presently, around 550 pharmacies sell cigarettes in NYC.
NYC’s Anti-Tobacco Fight
Michael Bloomberg, who preceded de Blasio, also took a tough stand on tobacco usage during his term and implemented laws, which made smoking in bars and restaurants illegal. It was largely due to his regulations that adult smokers among New Yorkers decreased from 21.5 percent in 2002 to 14 percent in 2012.
In March 2016, de Blasio announced he would come out with a proposal to reduce cigarette smoking within a few weeks. However, it took him over a year to draft the proposed changes.
“Since we came in, I’ve focused on opening up whole new veins in the fight for health and safety. We were balancing a lot of factors. It was a question of sequencing everything,” revealed de Blasio.
Similar Steps Taken In Other Parts Of The Country
New York City’s proposed changes in cigarette selling policies bring to mind Proposition 56 in California. The new regulations the state has adopted impose hefty taxes on cigarette packs and cartons. This was done in a bid to reduce tobacco addiction and many smokers have already sworn off the habit as they are unable to afford cigarettes.
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