Will Another Tax Increase Discourage New York Smokers?

June 05, 2008 09:02 AM
by Liz Colville
The state tax on cigarettes increased $1.25 on June 3 and will bring cigarette prices up to an average of $8 a pack.

30-Second Summary

The increase will bring the tax on a pack of cigarettes to $2.75, about a third of the total price. According to Newsday, the increase “is just one part of an $83 million antismoking effort that includes advertising and public service announcements.”

According to The New York Times, the initiative might already be working. One smoker said she was “in a bad mood after paying $8.90 for Newports … and was considering calling a cessation hotline.” The tax revenue is expected to raise about $265 million for the state, but the cost of treatment for smoking-related conditions still trumps that amount.

New York smokers, who pay the most tax on cigarettes nationwide, "may look elsewhere for their cigarettes,” suggested the Las Vegas Review-Journal. One store owner suggested that “Native American stores, the Internet and bootleggers” are three viable options for avoiding the tax.

Avoiding paying the cigarette tax is appealing during the current economic downturn, particularly for poorer smokers. A recent study on the correlation between cigarette prices and smokers’ income stated that raising prices “may no longer be an effective policy tool and may impose a disproportionate burden on poor smokers.”

Banning smoking in restaurants and bars has been a popular method to decrease smoking and prevent nonsmokers from the effects second-hand smoke. Research by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention found that such a ban did not affect restaurant revenues in El Paso, Texas, one of the first areas in the United States to implement the ban.

Headline Link: The effects of another cigarette price increase

Background: The methods behind antismoking initiatives

Reactions: State and nation react to New York cigarette price

Reference: Statistics on the smoking industry and smokers


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