Categories
Day Trips in the City Living in New York City Travel

The PATH train to Newport / Pavonia, New Jersey, for Cheap(er) Cigarettes

The sign for the PATH train to New Jersey at 14th Street and 6th Avenue.

Yesterday I went out to New Jersey with my mom.  She clued me in on something that I’ll have to keep in mind if I plan to keep up my bad smoking habit here in New York City.  The clue?  It’s damned expensive!  If you want to buy a carton of smokes here, you’re going to pay somewhere around 100 USD, average.  New York City taxes the hell out of a pack of cigarettes.  They’ve always been expensive and in the past when I’ve come to visit I brought cigarettes with me, but nowadays it’s just insane.  You either have to quit, or you have to get creative.  One way of getting creative is to leave the city, and the state entirely, to get your cigarette fix.

A mural on the wall at the Newport / Pavonia station. Click through for super large size viewing pleasure.

Sorry for the cheap stitch job, but it wouldn’t have lined up right anyway.

If you hop on the PATH (Port Authority) train at 6th Avenue and 14th Street, you can head out to New Jersey where the shopping is cheaper.  The PATH train is 3.50 one way, so 7 dollars for a round trip, but it’s worth it, because that same carton that would cost you about 100+ in the city will only cost you around 65 to 75 in New Jersey, depending on your brand.  So, even with the transit cost thrown in, you’ll still save money.

The area just outside the Newport / Pavonia PATH station.

Besides being cheaper for cigarettes, the Newport / Pavonia area of New Jersey is actually pretty nice looking.  It has a real southern city feel to it that reminds me of Columbus, GA or Atlanta.

The area just outside the Newport / Pavonia PATH station.

Even the skies there were clearer than in Manhattan.  When we left Manhattan the sky was gray and overcast.  In New Jersey the sky was blue with just a few scattered, puffy white clouds.

Hudson River Waterfront Walkway metal plaque set into the sidewalk.

Apparently there’s a river walk in the area.  I’m going to have to go back on another trip to check it out and get some shots of the Manhattan skyline.

The Light Rail in New Jersey, Newport / Pavonia area.

This is a shot of the Light Rail from a bridge that goes into the Newport Mall.

An angry bird that was unhappy with us sitting on 'his' bench.

And this is just some angry bird that got pissed when we sat on ‘his’ bench.  He didn’t let up in his show of indignation until we got up and took a few steps away.

There’s a lot of city to explore, but tomorrow I’m taking another flight, this time down to Georgia to visit family for two weeks.  Wish me well on the flight.

Categories
Living in the Philippines

Children Selling Cigarettes in the Philippines

DSC05376

I was sitting on that same second floor window where I saw the girl with the bag that said “Use Me” when I saw something else interesting.  Does this count as child exploitation?  Isn’t there a law against it?  Maybe there isn’t.  It seems like labor regulation is pretty loose in the Philippines, which can apparently have both its ups and downs.

This reminds me of something else I saw, where children were encouraged to buy tokens for the toy machines in a grocery store at the tobacco counter.

DSC04850

Categories
Living in Singapore Thoughts

Singapore Should Endorse, Not Ban, Smokeless Nicotine Products

Singapore’s Health Minister, Khaw Boon Wan, recently made the following statement in a blog post:

These are chilling words for the anti-tobacco population. Some describe the dissolvable products as nicotine candies designed to appeal to children, making them life-long addicts. Reynolds have already found these products to be more appealing to women, besides allowing smokers to continue their habit in smoke-free locations, like offices.

That is why I am amending our current Tobacco Control Act to arm ourselves for the era of these new tobacco products, including e-cigarettes (yes, there is such a thing!).

Even the title of the current Act, Smoking (Control of Tobacco) Act has to be amended to reflect the new reality. The Bill will be introduced soon. I look forward to Singaporeans’ support for the Bill.

Whether it creates smoke or is smokeless, tobacco is highly addictive and it kills.

This statement was made in response to a new series of products being produced by Reynold’s American Inc., the makers of Camel and Pall Mall cigarettes, including strips, lozenges and dissolving wafers.

The blog post this quote is from redirects people to the Health Minister’s Facebook fan page for commenting, and the few comments left there seemed to be in favor of his initiative to ban these items from Singapore.

I’d like to highlight a perspective of this that everyone seems to be missing. Smokeless tobacco items like the ones mentioned in his post could be used as, and should be marketed as, ways to assist smokers in breaking the habit.  He didn’t go into detail, but the products he’s describing seem to be nicotine releasing items that don’t contain tobacco at all.  Often these products don’t contain the carcinogens that produce cancer as well.

The hardest part of getting over smoking is finding a new thing to do, other than putting a cigarette in your mouth. If you replace the habit of puffing a cigarette with an item that’s like a candy, you stop mentally associating the pleasurable feeling from nicotine with a smoke-producing cigarette. Eventually you can wean yourself off of the nicotine lozenges and switch to real lozenges. It helps ease the psychological burden of quitting.

As a smoker of 15 years, I can tell you that from various attempts, it’s always the psychological part of quitting that’s the hardest to resist; the association of pleasure with a smoke producing cigarette. There has to be a substitute item to break that association.  A bag of nuts isn’t going to do it, and chewing gum isn’t even legal to be purchased in Singapore.  I think by banning these items, Singapore wouldn’t be making the streets safer for anyone. It would, in fact, remove viable options for people attempting to quit.

The biggest threat from and to smokers is the smoke, whether it be first-hand or second-hand.  If that’s the case, then the government should promote the use of smokeless alternatives for the benefit of everyone.  If smokeless options, especially these items which simply release nicotine, become more popular than cigarettes, it would greatly reduce the number of cancer cases caused by cigarette smoke.

From a monetary perspective, smokeless tobacco products offer the government another avenue for collecting taxes.  The same taxes that apply to cigarettes could be applied to these new products, preventing the government from losing their revenue stream.

I’d love to have access to these types of items for my own benefit in trying to quit smoking.  I’d feel a lot better about myself if I popped a lozenge after a meal instead of lighting up and inconveniencing everyone around me, as well as ruining my lungs.  It could also help me to finally be successful in quitting entirely.  I think it’s a shame I don’t have access to them while in Singapore.

Categories
Day Trips in the City Living in Singapore

Beer & Cigarettes in Singapore

Differences in prices between locations is nothing new to me, but I was shocked to see the price of alcohol and tobacco products in Singapore.

I spent most of the years I lived in the US in the southern states, where prices are more reasonable, due to lower taxes. I won’t go into the “when I was younger” stuff, but when I left the US in 2008 you could get a pack of cigarettes for about 3 dollars in Texas. It was about the same in Georgia. When I would visit my mother in New York City I would typically bring cigarettes with me, because they’re about 7 dollars a pack there, which I thought was ridiculously expensive. Beer is about 5 to 6 bucks a pack regardless of where you are in the States.

So, like I said, I was used to seeing different prices for these items. Still, I was shocked when I saw that in Singapore the average price for a pack of cigarettes is 11 Singapore dollars and the average price for a six pack is about 15 to 18 Singapore dollars. I had to wonder why the prices were so high, and after having spent some time here, I think I’ve found the reason. Singapore is a country that prides itself on cleanliness and that carries over into a push by the government to promote healthy living.

That’s not all bad, of course. I’ve never seen a place with so many parks, free work-out areas, and playgrounds, all of which are kept in near pristine condition. On top of that, each regional area has a gym and pool, which have very low entrance fees. If you’re a swimmer or you like to work out in a gym then you’ll definitely appreciate the Singapore government’s health initiatives.

On the other hand, the Singapore government has also put steep taxes on the alcohol and tobacco, to influence people to use them less, if not quit entirely. Again, that’s not exactly a bad thing. However, for foreigners who come to Singapore to live, it requires a slight lifestyle modification.

I never really drank much anyways, so cutting alcohol almost completely out of my life didn’t phase me. The cost of the cigarettes, though, makes my wallet cry. It’s hard to go from carefree smoking to counting your cigarettes and counting your puffs. I remember tossing half smoked cigarettes into butt cans on my way into buildings, but now I stop to finish the cigarette before continuing.

So, if you move to Singapore and like to drink and smoke, expect the amount of time you spend partying to get cut down. On the bright side, you can take advantage of the convenience of the gyms and pools to get back into shape, so you can look good when you take vacations to the numerous, gorgeous beaches in the Southeast Asia area.