Here in New York City lots of big businesses thrive, but little ones struggle. This is very difficult right now for a small business, is very difficult. Kamal Saleh, who runs this store was hit with thousands of dollars in fines. The first time I think is $2600. His crime? He sold three cigars for $8.89 cents. 11 cents too cheap, says New York City. His customers can’t believe it. It’s BS. Kind of stupid in the sense that If somebody’s willing to pay something. Not in New York City. Here bureaucrats say tobacco must be sold for above a minimum floor price. Why? Because anti-tobacco crusader Dr. Kurt Ribisl told the Center for Disease Control, “Very cheap products should no longer be available.” It deters children from starting smoking. You suggest this at the CDC, New York says, ah good idea! Well it’s also being considered very seriously in a number of jurisdictions in California. Why do you get to decide? No, I’m not deciding. I’m a person who studies these policies. I’ll let the policymakers decide. Why do the politicians get to decide? Cigarettes are the most lethal product ever introduced. Thanks to Ribisl’s recommendation, New York cigarette smokers now must pay at least $13 dollars a pack. People still have the ability to buy it if they so choose. Just not poor people. We see much higher smoking rates among poor people and so we need policies that are going to reduce tobacco use among poor people. I think it’s outrageous. I mean first of all, you’re in a poor neighborhood okay, and number two, a lot of people smoke cigars are elderly people, seniors. You know, where you going to charge $3 dollars and more? They choose it and the right to make your own choices is important. People are still figuring out ways to afford it. It’s not to the point where no one who’s poor is smoking. Do you know that we have over 20 tobacco retailers for every McDonald’s in the U.S.? It must be because people want that. What if you run a tobacco store? You’re just screwing them. I want to see a transition toward thinking more about healthy food and beverage because that’s gonna be a future making money. At the CDC, Ribisl testified that it should also be government policy to reduce the number of tobacco stores. We’re not interested in putting stores out of business or making people unemployed. Sounds like you are. They’re gonna find new products to sell. You’re a bully. No, I think the tobacco industry is more of a bully. When I say fork it over, you fork it over. He referred us to this ad from the FDA. Cigarettes are bullies. They are, but New York’s smoking police are worse. They use the power of the state to get their way and their tobacco rules go on for 47 pages, and this is just for tobacco. For food and refrigeration and deliveries and everything else, the New York City administrative code could be thousands of pages long. Lawyer Andrew Tilem defends store owners who get fined. You get paid in groceries and pizza? Fish and paper plates and tortillas. The rules mainly hurt little stores. It’s the big guy who basically could hire lawyers. The big business community is thriving. You see Starbucks, you see 7-Eleven, you see Walmart, you see Target, is the little guy who was trying to, you know pinch his pennies and make a dollar that has the biggest problem. Smoking hurts people. The city says, we’re just protecting people. And I’m not a smoking advocate, but I think in this country and in this city that people have the right to do the wrong thing. They ought to. We ought to. But we can’t if the health police rule our lives.