Philly Health Officials Hail NYC’s Move To Raise Cigarette Prices

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Health officials in Philadelphia are hailing New York City’s move to raise the minimum price of a pack of cigarettes to $13.

The price hike will make New York the most expensive place in the country to buy cigarettes.

Philadelphia Health Commissioner Thomas Farley says raising prices is a proven way to reduce the number of tobacco users. Numerous studies have shown that more smokers will quit as the price of cigarettes goes up.

“So when you go from $4 to $5 there are a number of people who quit,” Farley said. “And if you go from $10 to $13 there are gonna be a number of people who quit.”

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So it’s no coincidence, he says, that New York’s adult smoking rate is down to 14 percent compared to 22 percent here in Philly. While the numbers are trending lower, resistance remains among older, long-term smokers willing to travel to cheaper borderland areas such as Bucks County to the north and Delaware to the south to avoid sticker shock.

“You’ve gotta come down here, it’s cheaper. Like $6 a pack to $11 a pack,” said one man. “So I take a ride down here once a month, every six weeks, get cigarettes.”

“I been smoking for almost 60 years,” said another man. “What, am I supposed to quit now?”

Philadelphia’s current anti-smoking campaign features ads, limits on the number of cigarette retailers and the recent $2 increase in the cigarette tax.

“New York is leading the way but Philly is paying attention as well,” said Diane Phillips with the American Cancer Society. “We know that as the product gets more expensive it’s less affordable, especially for kids. And we really want to keep these products out of the hands of kids.”

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