Earlier this week New York City’s resident mayor and America’s most famous groundhog killer threw his support behind a proposal to raise the minimum price of cigarette single packs from the current unaffordable price of $10.50 a pack to $13 a pack. Per the New York Times:
“Raising the minimum price of a pack to $13, from the current $10.50 minimum, would make New York the most expensive place in the nation to buy cigarettes, city officials said.
The goal, Mr. de Blasio said, is to persuade or coerce 160,000 of the 900,000 New York City residents who smoke to stop doing so by 2020.
In pushing the anti-tobacco measures, the mayor, more than three years into his term, has come to embrace a major public health movement that was closely associated with his predecessor, Michael R. Bloomberg, who made the city a leader in efforts to reduce tobacco use.”
De Blasio is also backing a measure to cap the number of licenses issued to retail sellers. New York City’s health commissioner estimates that currently 9,000 retailers in the city have a license to sell tobacco, and the mayor wants that number reduced to 6,000 over the course of the next 10 years.
But breathe easy, brave addicted New Yorkers, these measures are expected to produce enough new black market loosie dealers (like Eric Garner) to no doubt fill the void left by licensed sellers.
De Blasio is, of course, hiding behind “health concerns” to push a policy that doesn’t make sense for much of his base. In a New York Times health analysis based on survey data from the University of Minnesota, Americans with a high-school education or less account for 40% of the population who smoke regularly. In 2012 study, low income ($30,000 a year or less) smokers in New York City spend up to 25% of their overall income on cigarettes.
There is no imperial data that shows that raising taxes on cigarettes forces more people to quit and get healthier. What it does have a track record of doing, however, is opening up alternate markets and methods for people to get their cigs. A 2015 study by the Tax Foundation found that New York holds the highest rates of inbound smuggled tobacco products.
The same comrade mayor who rails endlessly about the evils of corporate America and the struggles of the poor and downtrodden is literally making it impossible for the poor and downtrodden to get ahead by gassing them on a legal product. The same mayor who raises his fist in the air chanting “I can’t breathe” along with hundreds of Eric Garner supporters, is a willing participant in a policy that directly led to Garner’s arrest and subsequent death at the hands of officers in 2014.
But the bigger question for de Blasio is why his views on cigarettes are aligned with those of a radical islamist unholy death cult enslaving women, torching villages and boiling men alive in cages? On cigarette taxes, de Blasio aligns with ISIS. In a highly information tweet thread, New York Times foreign correspondent Rukmini Callimachi, while traveling through ISIS-ravaged Iraq, came upon a village man in Badooosh, a province just Northwest of Mosul. The man’s name is Mohamed Ahmed Saleh and he is a cow herder. His village was liberated from ISIS by coalition forces, and the first thing the dude did was light up a smoke. Callimachi goes on to tell the story of how Saleh describes the extremes he took to find cigarettes while under ISIS governance, and how much he enjoyed breaking their rules.
In one tweet, Callimachi snaps a photo of the brand of cigarettes. “This brand was the only 1 smuggled into ISIS territory. A packet used to cost 750 dinars or $0.63. Under ISIS, it spiked to 20,000 or $17”. In a following tweet, she writes: “He couldn’t afford $17. So he & 4 friends pooled money to buy 1 pack of 20 cigarettes. Here’s how he broke them up 2 make them last”
So take a bow, Mayor McDeath, there are people standing among the rubble of ISIS puffing away with more freedom than a brother living north of 110th street in Manhattan.
Maybe Eric Garner would have been safer in Mosul.