Health Department Announces Minimum Cigarette Pack Price Increases Today

The Health Department announced that, starting today, New York City will raise the base price for a pack of cigarettes to $13 – the highest pack price in the nation. Tobacco continues to be a leading contributor to preventable, premature death in New York City, killing an estimated 12,000 people annually. While smoking rates in New York City declined from 21.5 percent in 2002 to 13.1 percent in 2016, there are still more than 850,000 New Yorker adults who smoke. Much progress has also been made in decreasing the number of youth who smoke – the number declined by approximately 70 percent between 2001 and 2017. However, there are about 15,000 youth who are still cigarette smokers. Increasing the price of cigarettes has been shown to prevent youth and adults from starting to smoke and encourages those who do smoke to quit or cut back. This new minimum cigarette price is a central component of Mayor Bill de Blasio’s historic tobacco legislation package that aims to reduce the number of smokers in New York City by 160,000 by 2020.

“The cost of cigarettes is rising in New York City, and history shows that higher prices means fewer smokers,” said Health Commissioner Dr. Mary T. Bassett. “I’m thrilled we’re back on top with the highest pack price in the United States. Now is a great time to try to quit smoking, and our NYC Quits program can help. Even if you only smoke a few a day, or if you don’t smoke every day, the money adds up, and so does the risk to your health.”

“Cigarettes, like asbestos and processed meats, have been labeled a Group 1 carcinogen by the World Health Organization,” said Brooklyn Borough President Eric L. Adams. “We must do all we can to reduce the consumption of known carcinogens in our city, especially for our youth. Targeting tobacco sales and usage is a critically important way we are helping our city raise healthier children and families. As this price floor increase goes into effect, I thank DOHMH Commissioner Bassett for her continued leadership in helping New Yorkers quit smoking.”

Assembly Member Richard N. Gottfried, Chair of the Assembly Health Committee, said, “With smoking the leading cause of preventable death here and around the world, and a major cause of heart disease, cancer, lung disease, and stroke, the City is right to take reasonable steps to discourage New Yorkers from smoking, like raising the minimum price of a pack of cigarettes.”

“I encourage everyone to quit smoking to help their health and that of their family and friends. Higher pack prices have been proven to decrease the amount of people smoking in our city, making it a healthier place to live for everyone,” said State Senator Gustavo Rivera. “As the Ranking Member of the Health Committee in the Senate and a representative for the unhealthiest county in our state, I support any measure that helps New Yorkers make healthier choices and lead healthier lives.”

In August 2017, Mayor Bill de Blasio signed several bills into law to reduce tobacco use, including raising the minimum prices for all tobacco products; capping and reducing through attrition the number of tobacco retailers citywide; creating a retail license for e-cigarettes and capping the number of e-cigarette retailers; and banning the sale of tobacco products at pharmacies.

Tips to make quitting easier:

Find your reasons. Make a list of your reasons for quitting and read it often.

Pick a quit date. Choose a day that works for you and gives you time to prepare. Throw out all of your cigarettes beforehand, and get rid of ashtrays and lighters.

Get support and encouragement. Tell your family, friends and coworkers that you are quitting and ask for their support.

Notice and avoid what triggers cravings. Alcohol, coffee, stress, and being around others who smoke can all trigger cravings. Notice what makes you feel like smoking so that you can avoid those situations, change your routine, and have a plan to deal with your triggers.

Keep trying. It takes almost everyone multiple tries to quit smoking, so don’t be afraid to try again. You haven’t failed – you have learned more about your triggers. Throw out your cigarettes and start again.

Using cessation medications, such as nicotine patches and lozenges, can double the chances of quitting successfully. Medicaid covers a range of free and low-cost cessation medications, making them low-cost, as do most private plans. To get a free starter kit of quit-smoking medications or talk to a quit coach, visit nysmokefree.com or call 1-866-NY-QUITS (1-866-697-8487).

Connect to other resources.

  • Visit nyc.gov and search “NYC Quits.”
  • Download the new NYC HelpMeQuit app from Apple or Google Play stores.
  • Visit nyc.gov and search “Health Map” to find local quit smoking program.
  • Visit Facebook.com/nycquits.

For more information visit nyc.gov/health/NYCQuits.

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