Evan Haddad


A spate of new tobacco laws in New York City this year aims to further curb smoking by making it harder to purchase and sell cigs. In Bushwick, which has the eight-highest number of tobacco retailers in the city, smokers are seriously snuffed.

Four new laws will be in effect by the end of February 2018, setting caps on tobacco dealer licenses, increasing licensing fees, prohibiting pharmacies from selling tobacco products, and even regulating electronic cigarettes. 

The new legislation puts “e-cig” and traditional baccy retail into the same pack, requiring a license to sell electronic smokes just like the one required to sell cigarettes. Similar to the new caps on tobacco dealer licenses, the bill will also cap the number of electronic cigarette retailers at half the current number by community district. The restrictions will not affect existing licensees who may continue to renew their licenses.

Bushwick outranks just seven other neighborhoods in New York for tobacco retail, with about 16 distributors per 10,000 people. That number puts the neighborhood higher than both Brooklyn and New York City as a whole, which have 11 retailers per 10,000 residents. The heaviest concentration of tobacco sellers is in Midtown Manhattan, where there are 62 for every 10,000 people

The minimum price of cigarettes citywide will also go up from $10.50 to $13 per pack in June 2018, which means New York City is still the priciest place in the world to smoke.

If you’re a smoker in Bushwick, this is just another reason to keep to that New Year’s resolution to quit —   or stock up on packs of illicit, untaxed Virginia baccy sold under-the-counter at many local bodegas and delis.

Cover image courtesy of Amritanshu Sikdar on Unsplash