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Cigarettes in NYC are now the most expensive in the country

By Clayton Guse
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New York smokers: Get ready to cough up a lot more than a lung.

On Monday, Mayor Bill de Blasio signed a series of bills aimed at curbing the use of tobacco in the city, including one that will raise the minimum price for a pack of cigarettes from $10.50 to $13, the most expensive in the country. That same bill also imposes a 10 percent tax on tobacco products, which the mayor's office expects to generate an additional $1 million in annual revenue. 

Another bill caps the number of businesses that are licensed to sell tobacco products in each of the city's community districts at 50 percent of the current figure, meaning that the number of stores that sling smokes in your neighborhood could be cut in half. No retailers that currently sell tobacco will lose their license, but no new licenses to sell tobacco will be issued in a community district until the total number is reduced by half.

On top of all that, the sale of e-cigarettes will now require a license, residential building owners are mandated to implement no-smoking policies and pharmacies will soon be banned from selling tobacco products altogether. 

The legislation is sweeping, and de Blasio argues that its implementation will help reduce the number of smokers in New York City by 160,000 by 2020. In 2015, 14.3 percent of adults in the city were smokers, according to the mayor's office—the goal is to reduce that number to 12 percent over the next three years. 

“We are sending a loud and clear message that we will not let their greed kill any more New Yorkers without a fight," de Blasio said in a statement. “These new laws will not only help reduce the number of smokers in our city but also save lives.”

De Blasio originally proposed the legislation back in April, and it moved through the City Council without a hitch. (It's very, very hard for elected officials to vote against tobacco regulations.)

If the new price hikes don't motivate you to quit, you could always head to Virginia, where a carton of cigarettes costs roughly $45.

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