Health volunteers burn a huge replica of cigarette during an awareness campaign on World No Tobacco Day in Bhopal, India, May 31, 2014. The World Health Organization (WHO) has called for countries to raise taxes on tobacco to encourage users to stop and prevent other people from becoming addicted to tobacco. (Xinhua/Stringer)
NEW YORK, Aug. 29 (Xinhua) -- The New York city has raised the minimum price of cigarettes and little cigars to 13 U.S. dollars and placed a cap on tobacco retail dealer licenses in an effort to crackdown on smoking.
The anti-smoking move came in on Monday when the city mayor Bill de Blasio signed seven bills to help reduce the number of smokers.
Under the new laws, pharmacies, or retail stores that contain pharmacies, will not be able to sell tobacco products, including cigarettes.
There are over 550 pharmacies in New York City licensed to sell tobacco products. The prohibition would begin after these current licenses expire in 2018.
Other measures include requiring retailers of e-cigarettes be issued a license and caping the number of these licenses; raising the biennial fee for the new tobacco retail dealer license that includes all types of tobacco sales to 200 dollars from the current 110 dollars.
By imposing these measures, the city plans to reduce the number of smokers by 160,000 by 2020.
While smoking rates in New York city have declined from 21.5 percent in 2002 to 14.3 percent in 2015, the city still has more than 900,000 smokers, according to the mayor's office.
Tobacco has been a leading contributor to preventable, premature death in New York City, killing an estimated 12,000 people annually.