Cigarettes, the law, and NYC / by kevin murray

Mayor Bloomberg signed into law on November 19, 2013, a measure that had previously passed through the NYC legislature, raising the legal age to purchase cigarettes from 18 to 21, effective 180 days from the date of the mayor's signature.  As bad as that law is, a companion bill, sets a price floor on the selling price of cigarettes at $10.50 a pack.  The people that are most rejoicing at this new law aren't whom you might expect, that is to say, the "nattering nabobs and nanny state nincompoops", but the wanna-be shadowy underworld elements that are part and parcel of NYC.  Here for them lies a golden opportunity to sell product that is desired, commonly used, with a ready market that is underserved, legal to purchase and store, and with a very healthy profit margin that cannot be undercut by NYC law.


The bottom line, unfortunately though, for small mom and pop stores that legally sell cigarettes in NYC is a heap of trouble, because their consumers are going to find other avenues to purchase their smokes.  Not only that but peripheral purchases of other products within these mom and pop stores will decline because if you aren’t purchasing your cigarettes there, you aren’t going to pick up any other impulse purchases as well.  That makes for a declining and hence a bad business model at these small stores and probably will force the closure of some of them, making it less likely for fellow New Yorkers to find a corner store that is in close proximity to them.


As for the cigarette smokers themselves, the law may be a blessing in disguise.  Freed of the necessity or desire of frequenting and thereby paying high prices for NYC cigarettes, they will band together, preplan, and find alternate and cheaper sources for their smoking pleasure.  Not only will these smokers ultimately end up paying less per pack for cigarettes, there will still be a massive profit margin built in for cigarette bootleggers, enough to make sure to take care of paying off those in the know.  Monies that would have flowed in steadily to NYC tax coffers will flow instead to the underworld, corrupt entities, and street hustlers.


Adults of ages 18-20, who are old enough to vote, use to be old enough to drink, are old enough to smoke, are old enough to die defending their country's liberty and are old enough to be involuntarily sent to adult jails, will be put into that gray area of "adults with lesser rights" and this new NYC law will simply breed more contempt of the law.  It will also bring into play a new type of man, one not selling illegal drugs and paraphernalia, instead he will be providing a legal product that is highly desired, inconsistently regulated, and well placed to exploit.


Mayor Bloomberg doesn’t wish to acknowledge that Americas' first successful cash crop was tobacco, and it was our most successful export from 1617 to 1793.  Without the success of tobacco, America as we know it may not have ever come to pass.  Vilifying tobacco serves no good purpose and never will.  If tobacco really was all the evil that opponents make it out to be, it would have already faded into the trash heap of history.  Smoking survives and will continue to survive because tobacco provides some notable benefits such as: appetite suppression, reduction of anxiety, relaxation, and yes, pleasure.