Outside subway stops and bars in parts of this blighted city, slouching hustlers mutter “loosies, loosies” to passers-by, offering quick transactions, 50 cents a stick or three for a dollar.
Their illegal, if rarely prosecuted vocation: selling loose Newport cigarettes to those who do not have $4.50 to buy a pack.
In small corner markets, customers sometimes use code words like “bubble gum” or “napkins” to receive individual cigarettes wrapped in a napkin. Or they buy a flavored Black and Mild, the latest smoking craze here, from an opened five-pack.
Out-of-package sales are common in the poor areas of many cities, an adaptation to meager, erratic incomes and rising cigarette taxes. But researchers say they are just one facet of a high smoking rate among low-income urban blacks.
Even as antismoking campaigns have sharply reduced tobacco use in society at large, smoking has remained far more common among the poor of all races.
What a crying shame. Where are the churches on this matter? Read it all.