Ask a Newsstand Guy: Even More Cig Taxes?

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Mushtaf Ahmed, at work at Third Avenue and 49th Street. Photo: Amos Barshad


New York's pricey smokes might be getting even pricier, with word in today's Post that the city wants to raise its cigarette tax — currently $1.50 per pack — by another 50 cents. We stopped by Mushtaf Ahmed's newsstand, at Third Avenue and 49th Street, where — as a stream of customers stopped by for sodas, candy, and cigarettes — we asked him what this will mean for the city's smokers.

Do you think you'll be selling fewer cigarettes?
I think definitely the people who generally smoke less, occasional smokers, it affects them, because anybody who smokes occasionally, they will stop. But anyone who is habitual or addicted, he will smoke. The chain smoker won't stop, but the people who smoke a little will stop.

So are you mad at Bloomberg?
No, he knows better what he's doing. With that stuff, he knows what to do. Bloomberg is the person who has to lead the New York, and, personally, I like him. I am a Muslim from Pakistan, but I like him, you know. Maybe he's Jewish, I like him. He has to go according to the scientific figures and facts. If he decides, I don't mind.

But it's your money!
I'm not mad, because he knows why he did it. He knows the medical — whatever he did, he didn't do for money, maybe for the mankind and the human life. Sometimes you have to take negative steps.

You're okay with selling less if it saves lives.
We will be okay. People won't quit, they've got to do something. People eat chips, that's not food! People will smoke. After a couple of weeks — ten days, two weeks — again they will be on same line. Don't worry. It happened a lot, you know.

Amos Barshad