Under former Mayor Michael Bloomberg, the city of New York was subject to intense pressure to increase the price of cigarettes and limit access to smoking. The result was that New York City residents found themselves paying at least $10.50 per pack of cigarettes, and often much more than that for premium brands.

Now, current Mayor Bill de Blasio is looking to increase taxes on cigarettes, which may have an effect on the vapor industry as well. 

How High Could It Go?

In a bid to reduce the number of smokers in NYC by 160,000 over the next three years, a new tax proposal aims to make the minimum price for a pack of cigarettes $13. This is significantly higher than anywhere else in the United States and would send a strong message to smokers that they should give up the habit or pay a steep fee.

The other half of the proposal includes limiting the number of retailers who stock cigarettes in the first place so smokers would have less access to cigarettes all around. The goal would be to cut the total number of cigarette vendors in half over the next few years by letting some of them go out of business on their own and only renewing existing licenses without adding new ones. 

Keep Moving Forward

While many smokers are upset about the proposal, the fact is that this methodology really works. Under Mayor Bloomberg, the city saw a sharp decrease in the number of adult smokers from 21.5% in 2002 to only 14% in 2012.

A further price hike could easily drop that number below 10%. This would also make a dent in the number of approximately 12,000 smokers per year who die of smoking-related illnesses, saving the state money on medical expenses along the way and generating more tax revenue up front. 

How the Vape Industry May be Affected

In the bigger picture, this proposal could have far reaching effects on other industries. For instance, the vapor industry, whose products are often cited as a means of helping tobacco smokers quit their habit, could also suffer from a tax hike at the same time.

This would make it expensive to even attempt switching from cigarettes to vaporizers. In addition there is some talk about requiring vapor product vendors to get separate licenses that would rack up even more tax revenue and potentially inhibit access to vapor products. 

Smokers, vapers, and local health advocates are all taking different sides on the issue, and debating fiercely over what will come next.

According to Mayor de Blasio the goal is to push these proposals forward as fast as possible to start reducing the number of smokers in the city right away.