Counterfeit Cigarettes Just One More Reason to Quit Smoking in New York

cigarettes ash.jpg
Mmm mmm good.
Smokers just can't catch a break in this city. Not only are packs up to 13 bucks a pop, those prices may be driving a rise in the Chinese black-market cigarette economy in New York, the Post reports. Exotic! You could be smoking such delicacies as "yak hair" and "chicken droppings." Thanks, New York City Department of Finance.

Marlboro/Phillip Morris, one of the most counterfeited brands, is doing some undercover investigation on the matter and has slammed eight New York City bodegas with federal lawsuits for selling the fake cigs. We got a hold of some of the delis mentioned for comment and really made their day by informing them for the first time of these charges. Whoops.

It seems that someone in China is apparently trying to pass off Marlboro and Newport cigs as their own in a business that makes up approximately 2 percent of cigarette sales in New York. As the Post points out, one of the biggest issues with these Chinese counterfeits is that they are made in factories that are not regulated by governmental health ordinances. Hence the "yak hair" and "chicken dropping" reference. However, no one actually knows what's in these cigarettes -- and we'd rather not guess.

Cigarette companies are blaming tax increases in the city for the rise in Chinese counterfeiting. Because cigarette merchants' profit margins decrease due to people buying less in the wake of higher prices, goes the argument, it is personally economical for deli owners and other cigarette merchants to buy counterfeit smokes. Experts say that Chinese black-market cigarettes go for $15 a carton, whereas in New York, after taxes, a carton is now selling for around $120. Meaning the profit margins, especially without taxes, are enormous.

Whatever the reason, the uncertainty of contents in our cigarettes is stressing us out. We need a smoke.

[Annie Werner | on Twitter]

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