De Blasio's proposal continues the work of his predecessor, Michael Bloomberg, whose crusade against smokers including imposing the nation's highest cigarette taxes, banning smoking in bars, parks and on beaches, and working to raise the minimum tobacco-buying age to 21. The proposed move would make NYC home to the highest-priced cigarettes in the country. He says his goal is to reduce the number of smokers by 160,000.
"There are 29 times more tobacco retailers in New York City than there are Starbucks", de Blasio said. The legislation could face opposition from pharmacy chains, commercial landlords and store owners who derive significant revenue from tobacco sales, but could be supported by those who get to keep their licenses.
De Blasio compared Big Tobacco to a serial killer "convincing young people in droves to partake in e-cigarettes" at a dramatic press conference Wednesday at the American Heart Association's headquarters in Midtown.
"I am trying to quit, so increasing the price would help", smoker Nichole Munisami said. The study also found no serious side effects in either the short or medium term.
A second measure from Councilman Brad Lander (D-Brooklyn) would prohibit pharmacies from getting licenses to sell cigarettes or - in conjunction with another bill - other tobacco products. Just as drugs and guns are available on the black market, cigarettes will be as well.
Many argue that increases on cigarette prices are regressive, meaning they disproportionately weigh on the poor and underprivileged.
Also, enforcing this law will create new opportunities for risky encounters between police and citizens.
The immediate impact of de Blasio's announcement on tobacco bonds issued by the New York City couldn't be determined. Garner's alleged crime was that he was selling single cigarettes, called "loosies" on the street.
The bills will reduce the number of tobacco retailers, license those selling electronic cigarettes and cap their numbers.