Smuggled, Untaxed Cigarettes Are Everywhere in New York City

Jon Campbell
Smuggled cigarettes found during an inspection at a corner store in Long Island City
As six armed officers pour out of two unmarked Ford Explorers on a Long Island City street corner, you can see the confusion on the faces of gawkers and passersby. One woman looks up from her phone and does a sitcom-worthy double-take when she notices their windbreakers, embossed with the word "SHERIFF" in big gold letters, front and back.

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Fueled by Industry Funding, Group Protests State E-Cig Tax

Jon Campbell
Doctor Gilbert Ross speaks at a rally against new taxes on e-cigarettes.
New York State is considering higher taxes and more restrictions on e-cigarettes, and at least one group is not taking the move lying down.

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Citing Martin Luther King, Thomas Jefferson and Gandhi, Some People Will Use E-Cigs In Central Park

Image via Facebook
Russ Wishtart vapes defiantly.
There comes a time when good men, men of conscience, can take no more. They have to rise up against tyranny, cast off the shackles of oppression, shake their fists in the face of moral injustice. They have to use e-cigarettes in public, while trying very, very hard to get a ticket for doing so.

As you may recall, one of Michael Bloomberg's last acts as mayor, an admittedly silly one, was to sign a ban on the public use of e-cigarettes, adding them to the 2002 Smoke-Free Air Act that banned smoking in public places throughout the city. It took effect April 29, sparking outrage among the city's surprising passionate, exceedingly aggrieved e-cig-using public.

That's where Russ Wishtart comes in. He's whole-heartedly dedicated to "vaping," the verb e-cig users prefer, so much so that he hosts a podcast on the subject entitled Click, Bang!. And in March, he and other vaping activists joined with smokers rights group sue the city to overturn the e-cig ban.

As the wheels of justice grind exceedingly slowly, they're also planning a little civil disobedience for this Saturday.

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The New York City Smoking Age Is Officially 21 Now

Photo Credit: theirhistory via Compfight cc
Dear smug 19-year-olds: Mayor Bloomberg has finally got your number. He has just signed a law raising the minimum age for purchasing tobacco products from 18 to 21. The City Council passed the legislation in October by a margin of 35 to 10. Outgoing Council Speaker Christine Quinn and Health Commissioner Dr. Thomas A Farley proposed the age hike in April, hoping to target would-be smokers at the age at which they are most likely to develop a nicotine addiction. The new law makes New York the first major city in America with such tight restrictions.

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New York City Council Approves Cigarette Purchase Age Change from 18 to 21

Photo Credit: Anthony Posey SIR:Poseyal Desposyni via Compfight cc
The New York City Council approved legislation to raise the minimum age to purchase cigarettes from 18 to 21. By a vote of 35 to 10, the new law could got into effect as soon as six months from now.

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New Jersey Wants to Raise Its Smoking Age to 21, Too

"This has now truly become a regional, if not national, effort."

Thus spoke City Council Speaker Christine Quinn at a press conference yesterday. Former-governor-turned-state-senator Richard Codey and New Jersey Assemblyman Ruben Ramos came to City Hall to join her in previewing their own version of a bill announced in New York City less than a month ago: a measure to boost the age at which you can buy cigarettes to 21. Quinn is a forerunner of the bill that has placed her directly in front of an issue Bloomberg has championed--a position that could injure her campaign more than help it.

"Less than a month after our initial announcement, our great neighboring state of New Jersey is planning to introduce legislation to do exactly the same thing: raise the age to purchase tobacco to 21," Quinn said. The provision has also been introduced in Albany to apply on a statewide level.

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Bloomberg: Britain & Teen Smoking Rate Were Causes For Cigarette Age Proposal

Thumbnail image for 320px-Ashtray_with_cigarette_butts.JPG.jpeg
As we reported yesterday morning, City Health Commissioner Tom Farley and City Council Speaker Christine Quinn joined forces Monday to announce a proposal to raise the age to buy cigarettes to 21. And then we went into the electoral blowback this could have for Quinn in the upcoming mayoral campaign, given her notion to shift away from Bloomberg. Yada, yada, yada.

But, as mentioned, the Mayor was nowhere to be found when news of the proposal hit headlines on Monday. Until yesterday.

At a press conference for an ice rink of epic proportions in the Bronx, the Mayor finally commented on the new age restriction -- one that basically has his name written all over it (FYI: Bloomberg was not down for this proposal just a few months ago). But two things changed his mind: the example set forth by the United Kingdom and a stagnant teenage smoking rate.

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Proposal to Raise Cigarette Age to 21 Is Quinn's Latest Bloomberg Move

As you've might've heard by now, Health Commissioner Dr. Thomas A. Farley and City Council Speaker Christine Quinn came together yesterday to announce the latest public health proposal; one that will piss off every underage teenager from here to 7-Eleven.

In New York City, the age to purchase cigarettes might raise from 19 to 21, placing smoking on the same plateau as drinking. You'll be able to vote, join the military, pay taxes and legally secede from your parents (all actions which kinda demand anxious chain-smoking) but that pack of Parliaments will be off limits. In effect, the proposal would make the Big Apple's smoking regulations the stricest in the country.

And, since everything is political, the proposal could hurt Quinn's mayoral campaign.

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Bloomberg Administration Launching 'One Cigarette is One Too Many' Campaign

bloomberg light smoker campaign.jpg
First it was smoking in restaurants, then bars, then parks and beaches, and now city government is going after the casual smokers' daily cigarette or two. The Bloomberg administration is launching a television campaign aimed at "light" smokers, defined as those who smoke less than 10 cigarettes a day. The press release describes the new campaign:

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Third Roll-Your-Own Cigs Place Opens in Brooklyn, Despite City Lawsuit Against First Two

There are a handful of magical places in New York City where you can roll your own cigarettes and save considerable amounts of money in so doing. They're under threat, though, because the city has filed suit against the first two in existence.

That hasn't stopped a third roll-your-own-smokes place from opening up in Sheepshead Bay. The Daily News reports that owner Jack Wang opened City Smokes last week without knowing about the lawsuits.

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