Photo Courtesy of Michael Appleton/Mayoral Photography Office
Mayor de Blasio called the new measure a milestone in the City’s efforts to reduce the rate of smoking.
By Forum Staff
As of Jan. 1, 2019, pharmacies in the five boroughs, including supermarkets and big-box stores with a pharmacy section, are prohibited from selling cigarettes and other tobacco products, Mayor Bill de Blasio noted on Monday in Manhattan at a rally celebrating the ban.
Hizzoner called the new measure a milestone in the City’s efforts to reduce the rate of smoking. In August 2017, de Blasio signed a package of bills into law to help reduce tobacco use, including raising the minimum prices for all tobacco products; capping the number of tobacco retailers citywide; creating a retail license for e-cigarettes that was not open to pharmacies, effectively banning e-cigarettes from pharmacies; capping the number of e-cigarette retailers; and promoting smoke-free spaces in residential settings.
“Tobacco kills thousands of New Yorkers every year,” said new City Health Commissioner Oxiris Barbot, M.D. “The tobacco-free pharmacy law is a public health victory. It builds on New York City’s commitment to reduce the number of smokers in our city so New Yorkers can live longer, healthier lives.”
Tobacco use remains a leading cause of preventable death, blamed for an estimated 12,000 deaths in NYC each year. Despite declines in the smoking rate, there are still more than 860,000 adults and 13,000 youth who smoke in the Big Apple. The administration noted that tobacco use can cause stroke, diabetes, heart disease, lung disease, vascular disease, and more than 10 types of cancer. CVS Pharmacy and several independent pharmacies have already voluntarily stopped selling tobacco products. About 500 pharmacies still sell tobacco products, according to officials.
The administration also pointed out on Monday that selling cigarettes or tobacco products without a valid City tobacco retail dealer license is a misdemeanor and is subject to civil penalties. Selling cigarettes or tobacco products without a valid City license two times in three years can result in temporary store closure.
“By limiting the number of retailers selling tobacco products, we can help keep tobacco products out of the hands of minors and improve the health of all New Yorkers,” said City Department of Consumer Affairs Commissioner Lorelei Salas.
The City Health Department noted that it offers a number of tools to support smokers who want to quit. Visit nyc.gov and search “NYC Quits” to find tips on how to stop smoking. You can also call (866) NY-QUITS (1-866-697-8487) or visit nysmokefree.com to get a free starter kit of quit-smoking medications or talk to a quit coach.
“As a daughter who saw her father’s life shortened due to smoking-related illness, I applaud New York City’s efforts to end the sale of tobacco products in pharmacies,” said Wendy Mono, member of the American Heart Association NYC Advocacy Committee. “Smoking is the most preventable cause of premature death in the United States. Smoking and tobacco use put you at higher risk for heart disease and stroke. While the smoking rate among New York City residents has dropped significantly in recent years, the association will continue to support these and all efforts to curb our city’s addiction to tobacco entirely.”