Out of concern for the health of the poor, New York City plans to jack up the price of cigarettes and cigarillos. The rich are still free to smoke themselves into an early grave.
Mayor Michael “He Knows What’s Best For You” Bloomberg sent legislation to the city council that would raise the price of cigarettes and cigarillos to $10.50 a pack, the highest in the nation. Some stores were selling cigarettes at $14.50 a pack, according to the New York Post.
The minimum wage in New York state is $7.25 an hour, meaning the working poor will have to work really, really hard for their smokes, or, an increasing choice for many, buy them on the black market. By one estimate, 60 percent of the cigarettes sold in the city are smuggled in from low-cost states.
The price increase is unlikely to hurt the fat cats who think nothing of paying $178 for a box of 25 Cohiba Corona cigars.
The city council already has banned flavored tobaccos, both cigarettes and smokeless, on the grounds that these products had special appeal to the young. The council banned herb and spice flavorings, “including strawberry, grape, orange, clove, cinnamon, pineapple, vanilla, coconut, licorice, cocoa, chocolate, cherry or coffee.”
We take a fairly libertarian view on these matters, but if you need heavy lashings of cinnamon and pineapple to get the smoke into your lungs, you really should pick another vice.
The mayor is fresh off an ill-fated effort to ban sugary drinks to go in cups larger than 16 ounces in order to combat obesity.
Again, this is aimed at the poor. Rarely in the offices of your better hedge funds do you see the partners walking the mahogany-lined halls with a 16-ounce Slurpee in either hand. Unfortunately for the mayor, a court recently overturned the ban, but the mayor is nothing if not relentless.