Tag Archives: Cigarettes

Burglar wanted for stealing smokes and cash from Astoria food shop

| rpozarycki@queenscourier.com

Screenshot via NYPD

Police released on Thursday video footage of a man wanted for grabbing cash and cigarettes from an Astoria grocery store during a recent burglary.

Authorities said the break-in occurred at about 5:50 a.m. on Aug. 16 at the iKraveIt food store located at 34-02 30th St.

The business was closed when the suspect, whom police described as a male wearing a hooded sweatshirt, gloves, pants, a hat and sneakers while carrying a backpack, entered through the front door.

Once inside, the crook removed $250 from the cash register as well as nine packs of cigarettes kept from behind the counter, police said. After taking the loot, he fled in an unknown direction.

Workers at the store later reported the break-in to the 114th Precinct. The investigation is ongoing.

Anyone with information regarding the suspect’s whereabouts is asked to call Crime Stoppers at 800-577-TIPS, visit their website or send a text message to 274637 (CRIMES), then enter TIP577. All calls and messages are kept confidential.


Queens smoking cessation program to no longer receive state grant money: sources

| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com


State funds to aid programs helping smokers put an end to their habit are calling it quits in Queens.

The Queens Courier has learned that Queens Quits, a partnership between the Queens Health Network, the American Cancer Society and Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, will no longer receive grant money from the New York State Department of Health (DOH).

Queens Quits is one of the state DOH’s Tobacco Control Program Cessation Networks, and continued funding would allow it to keep reaching out to over 6,000 health care providers in the borough, asking patients about tobacco usage and providing interventions, training, materials and feedback.

From 2005 to present, Queens Quits has conducted 346 trainings and has collaborated with 6,073 health care partakers including physicians, nurses and dentists, sources told The Courier. Also for the past five years the New York State Smokers’ Quitline for the New York metro area has gotten 3,236 referrals from Queens, compared to 2,288 from Manhattan, 2,102 from Brooklyn and 1,700 from the Bronx, sources said.

Instead, NYU Medical Center will now receive the funds for the city and will manage all the outer boroughs out of a Manhattan office, a source told The Courier.

“Though disappointed in losing its grant, Queens Cancer Center and Queens Hospital remain committed to reducing smoking in Queens, and will continue to support smoking cessation efforts in any way possible,” the Queens Cancer Center of Queens Hospital said in a statement.

According to the state DOH, the 2014 Health Systems for a Tobacco-Free New York grants were awarded based on a competitive Request for Applications (RFA) process.

Applications were requested from “organizations that will work to engage health care systems to improve the delivery of guideline-concordant care for tobacco dependence through systems and policy change at the organizational level.”

Following a comprehensive review of all applications, awards were made to organizations that best met these criteria, the NYS DOH said in a statement.



CVS stores to stop selling tobacco products by October

| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Photo via Wikimedia Commons

CVS customers will soon need to turn to another drugstore chain for their supply of cigarettes.

The company announced Wednesday it will stop selling tobacco products at all of its CVS/pharmacy locations by Oct. 1.

“Ending the sale of cigarettes and tobacco products at CVS/pharmacy is the right thing for us to do for our customers and our company to help people on their path to better health,” said Larry J. Merlo, president and CEO of CVS Caremark.”Put simply, the sale of tobacco products is inconsistent with our purpose.”

CVS is the first major national pharmacy chain to remove tobacco products from its shelves.

The company estimates that it will lose approximately $2 billion in revenues annually because of the move.

“This decision more closely aligns the company with its patients, clients and health care providers to improve health outcomes while controlling costs and positions the company for continued growth,”  CVS said.

It will also launch a national smoking cessation program this spring, which will include information and treatment on smoking cessation at CVS/pharmacy and MinuteClinic along with online resources, CVS said. It will additionally offer comprehensive programs for CVS Caremark pharmacy benefit management plan members to help them to quit smoking.



Mayor Bloomberg signs law to raise cigarette purchase age to 21

| ctumola@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/ Photo by Nikki Djokovich

Mayor Michael Bloomberg has signed a law making New York the first major U.S. city to have a minimum cigarette purchase age of 21.

Bloomberg signed the law on Tuesday, raising the minimum age for buying cigarettes and other tobacco products, as well as e-cigarettes, from 18 to 21.

The law, which Bloomberg said “will prevent young people from experimenting with tobacco when they are most likely to become addicted,”will take effect in 180 days. The mayor has previously spearheaded measures such as banning smoking in bars and restaurants.

“Any person operating a place of business where cigarettes, tobacco products, or electronic cigarettes are sold or offered for sale will be prohibited from selling such products to anyone under the age of twenty-one and they will be required to post a sign in a conspicuous location stating the new law,” said Bloomberg.  “Sales of these products shall be made only to an individual who demonstrates, through a driver’s license or other photographic identification card issued by a government entity or educational institution, that the individual is at least twenty-one years of age.”

The City Council voted to raise the minimum age in October. It passed by a 35-10 vote.

“…Our city is sending a powerful signal to the tobacco industry and its allies that hooking our kids on nicotine will no longer be a viable business model,” said Councilmember James Gennaro, one of the law’s sponsors, after the October 31 vote.

Eighty percent of the city’s adults who become daily smokers start smoking before reaching the age of 21, according to the City Council.

The same day, the City Council also passed legislation which attempts to limit access to illegal tobacco products and strengthens enforcement against illegal cigarette dealers.



NYC may raise tobacco purchase age to 21

| ctumola@queenscourier.com

If City Council Speaker Christine Quinn has her way, drinking won’t be the only thing that becomes legal at 21.

Newly proposed Council legislation would raise the minimum age for purchasing tobacco products in the five boroughs from 18 to 21.

The change would make NYC the first major U.S. city to have a minimum smoking age above 19 years old.

“Too many adult smokers begin this deadly habit before age 21,” said Quinn, who announced the legislation today along with Department of Health and Mental Hygiene Commissioner Dr. Thomas Farley and representatives from leading health advocacy organizations. “By delaying our city’s children and young adults access to lethal tobacco products, we’re decreasing the likelihood they ever start smoking, and thus, creating a healthier city.”

Although the city has cut the smoking rate over the last decade through measures such as banning smoking in bars and raising cigarette prices, the rate among youths has remained consistent at 8.5 percent since 2007, according to a statement from Quinn.

“Considering that 85 percent of U.S. smokers begin their deadly habit before they reach age 21, this legislation would help prevent more youth from succumbing to an addiction that could cost them their lives,” said Jeff Seyler, president and CEO of the American Lung Association of the Northeast.



Poor smokers spending 25% of income on cigarettes: study

| brennison@queenscourier.com


A new study shows a quarter of smokers’ income is going up in smoke.

Low-income smokers in New York are puffing away nearly 25 percent of their cash on cigarettes, according to a recently releases study by RTI International.

New York has the highest state cigarette taxes in the nation at $4.35 — only slightly lower than a pack in some states. New York City smokers are hit with an additional $1.50 tax per pack.

Though smoking has fallen 20 percent overall, the study found people in households with less than $25,000 in income had “no statistically significant decline in smoking.”

“Excise taxes are effective in changing smokers’ behavior,” said Matthew Farrelly, Ph.D., the study’s lead author. “But not all smokers are able to quit, and low-income smokers are disproportionately burdened by these taxes.”

Smokers in the highest income group dish out just 2 percent of their income on cigarettes.

Farrelly suggested programs should be funded with the tax money to help poor smokers put out their cigarettes for good.

The study was by the New York State Health Department.


Smokers at record lows in New York City

| brennison@queenscourier.com


More New Yorkers than ever have put out their last cigarette.

The number of New York City smokers has reached all-time lows, officials recently announced. In the past decade nearly half a million New Yorkers have put out their cigarettes, with 100,000 smokers quitting between 2009 and 2010. Smoking is down 35 percent throughout the city over the past eight years.

“Smoking is the leading cause of preventable, premature death in New York City and the nation today and we’re proud that a record number of New Yorkers are saving their own lives by quitting,” said Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

Approximately 7,200 New Yorkers die from smoking-related illnesses each year – which equals more than 19 every day. The mayor estimated that the decrease in smokers will prevent 50,000 premature deaths. Smoking-related deaths fell 12 percent between 2004 and 2009.

“There is no question that addiction to cigarettes is a main source of poor health and premature death,” said Senator Michael Gianaris. “It is promising to see so many are learning to conquer this bad habit so they can live longer and be more prosperous.”

The percentage of smokers remained stagnant – around 21 percent – between 1993 and 2002, when the city’s campaign to curb smoking began.

In 2002, a pack of cigarettes cost only $5.20. Prices rose as the tax on packs increased. New Yorkers pay $4.35 tax per pack, which is the highest in that nation and almost a dollar more than second place Rhode Island. A pack of cigarettes can now cost up to $15 in the city.

Higher taxes and the resulting higher prices has had a significant effect on underage smokers. Underage smoking rates have fallen 60 percent since 2002 – and are more than 12 percent points below national averages.

In the past decade the mayor has also strengthened the city’s Smoke Free Air Act spreading smoking bans to bars and restaurants, hospital grounds and most recently, public parks and beaches.

Though historic progress has been made, City Health Commissioner Dr. Thomas Farley still believes too many preventable deaths are plaguing the city.

“Smoking will kill about 7,000 New Yorkers this year. For me, as Health Commissioner, this is way too many deaths and they are preventable. We will continue to work to lower smoking rates even further,” Farley said.