"I just came from North Carolina the other day," Lato says when I ask him where he gets his cigarettes. "You know how much cigarettes cost out there? Five dollars."
According to a survey by the the Awl, a pack of Marlboro Reds costs an average of $5.45 in North Carolina, one of the lowest prices in the nation. It's also just a quick ten-hour drive down I-95 from New York City.
"I just run out there maybe twice a month," Lato says. But he's not as cavalier on these trips as he appears on the street.
"Let me tell you something," he continues, "Number one: You cannot just go out there and just go into one store and buy it like that 'cause they know. When you go out of town, you buy cigarettes, you buy too many cartons, they suspicious. You gotta go in this store and buy two or three cartons, this store, buy two or three cartons, that store, buy two or three cartons. You got to do it like that. You can't go into one store and buy more because they know that we're taking them out of state."