Mayor Bill de Blasio on Wednesday threw his support behind a series of initiatives to cut tobacco use, including raising the minimum price of a pack of cigarettes to $13 and taking steps to sharply reduce, over time, the number of stores that can sell tobacco products.
The effort was a rare instance of the mayor embracing a major public health crusade that was closely associated with his predecessor, Michael R. Bloomberg, who made the city a leader in efforts to reduce tobacco use. Many of the initiatives had been on Mr. de Blasio’s desk for well over a year, waiting for him to take action, to the consternation of public health and antismoking advocates who feared that the city was failing to build on earlier gains.
Perhaps the most far-reaching of the measures, which were in four City Council bills introduced this month, is an initiative that would, over time, significantly reduce the number of stores allowed to sell tobacco products.
The bill says that the number of licenses issued to retailers to sell tobacco products in each of the city’s 59 community board districts should be set at half the current level. That level would be reached gradually through attrition, because current license holders would be allowed to retain and renew their licenses.
A study by the American Cancer Society found that, as of last October, there were 8,992 licensed retail outlets in New York. About a third of those are within 500 feet of a school, the study found.
Other studies have shown that tobacco sellers are disproportionately concentrated in poor neighborhoods.
Other bills would raise the minimum price of a pack of cigarettes to $13, from $10.50, and establish taxes on tobacco products other than cigarettes.
Another proposal under consideration would ban the sale of tobacco products in pharmacies.