Monday, August 4, 2008

Cigarette Sales Going Up In Smoke

In June, New York State's tax on a pack of cigarettes went from $1.50 to $2.75. Since then, more and more New Yorkers are calling 311 for help to quit; three times as many as before. More are requesting free nicotine patches, too. At up to $10.00 per pack, $300.00 per month for a pack-a-day habit, a tipping point may have been reached. In 2007, only 16.9% of New Yorkers smoked. Smoking is certainly very different socially and economically compared to when Bogie lit up. Though there’s something inherently wrong with government imposing taxes to control any type of personal behavior, it seems to be a good thing here. If the day ever comes when smokers drop below 10% of our population for example, where will the government make up the lost revenue and impose a new tax "to do us good?" Perhaps on all super-sized food orders?

Tenement To Mansion 101

Real estate mogul, Alistair Economakis owns a rent-stabilized building on the Lower East Side of Manhattan. He wants to legally evict his tenants and develop the building into a private mansion for his family. Recently, the courts upheld his right to do just that. Tenant and neighborhood activists are protesting. It appears the legal strategy used by Economakis involved some questionable maneuvers however they seem to be within the letter of the law. Whether they were within the intent of the law or might set legal precedent eliminating more rent-controlled apartments remains to be seen. It’s easy to side with the tenants here who may be forced to move from their homes. Keep in mind that a property owner has rights too. If there are those in New York who are unhappy with the court’s ruling, they should work to change the laws. Eliminate the loopholes Economakis benefited from to prevent their use by other landlords in the future. In the meantime though, don’t denigrate or deny someone the fulfillment of a dream that they’re legally entitled to make reality.