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Member Research & Reports

Member Research & Reports

Rutgers: New Study Examines New York City’s Approach to Tobacco Control Through Price and Access Laws

Rutgers School of Public Health associate professor, Mr. Kevin Schroth, describes how New York City’s latest tobacco control laws increase tobacco prices and reduce access in a new paper.

The market for tobacco has been evolving as e-cigarettes and other tobacco products have become increasingly popular.

In 2017, New York City passed several new tobacco control laws. Notably, the country’s first comprehensive minimum price law, increasing the minimum price for a pack of cigarettes to $13. That 16 percent increase over the previous average price is projected to reduce adult cigarette smoking by 6.4 percent. The minimum price is now $8 for a single cigar and $13.25 for a 4-pack.

Separately, a 1939 state law was used to impose a city tax for tobacco products other than cigarettes.

New York City has high tobacco retail density, with 8000 tobacco outlets in 2017, or 27 per square mile. To reduce tobacco retail density, the city first prohibited pharmacies from selling tobacco products, a 7 percent reduction.  Second, it set caps at 50 percent of the current total number of tobacco licenses in each of the city’s 56 community districts.  As a result, the number of licenses will decline gradually as they are retired or revoked. New York City also created an e-cigarette license and established a similar cap system to reduce the number of e-cigarette licenses. A retailer must secure a tobacco license and an e-cigarette license to sell both.

Mr. Schroth, who played a role in passing these laws while employed by the NYC Department of Health, said, “These laws are based on rigorous analysis of scientific evidence.  Collectively, they are expected to decrease tobacco consumption and, at the same time, change the landscape of NYC’s market for tobacco products and e-cigarettes. Other jurisdictions can benefit from similar laws.”

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