New Yorkers In Prison Pay $30 Per Smoke
And New Yorkers thought they paid a lot for cigarettes.
In a city where cigarettes cost an average of $12 per pack, many smokers resent Mayor Michael Bloomberg for the tax he has inflicted on their businesses and their wallets. When Bloomberg proposed to ban smoking in public parks and beaches, many protested, and their cries grow louder today as he pushes for a minimum price tag of $10.50 and even insists that stores conceal their cigarette displays from the public eye.
But that’s nothing compared to the unforeseen reactions that some of his previous legislation has garnered.
When the Bloomberg administration banned cigarettes behind prison bars in 2003, his intention was not to create a ludicrous racketeering ring revolving around the black market of smokes. And yet, according to recent sources, that’s exactly what he did—the going price for a single pack of cigarettes is reportedly close to $200.
And compared to Harlem, where many bodegas sell solo cigarettes for under a dollar, one precious cancer stick at Rikers Island commands a hefty price of $30.
There are 25 states across the nation that have fully banned cigarettes from their prison systems, but none have reported such outrageous contraband prices as New York City.
This ban proved a harsh blow to jailhouse economics. Prison income from cigarette sales was once a booming business that flattened and even reversed after the ban, as the institutions now expend further resources combatting the import of illegal tobacco.
According to Bronx District Attorney general Robert Johnson, there have already been 20 tobacco-smuggling arrests in 2013. About 16% of all in-jail busts are tobacco-related.
Canine units are regularly trained to sniff for not only drugs and electronics, but tobacco as well. However, Correctional Department officials have much protested their own quarters and lockers being searched by the dogs, (“We’re not inmates!”) and as such, staff are freely available to continue any under-the-table businesses that may or may not be occurring.
I think Chicago said it best: “You be good to Mama, and she’ll be good to you.”