state cigarette taxes graph

Up in smoke

pack of cigarettesA bill passed by the state legislature last night will increase the state tax on cigarettes from $2.75 to $4.35 per pack. That's the highest in the nation.

We were kind of curious about how much higher New York's tax will be compared to other states -- especially states that are right next door. And yep, you guessed it -- the inevitable chart is after the jump.

With the tax increase, a pack of cigarettes will now go for a little more than $9 -- and almost $11 in NYC (which has its own excise tax). [NYT]

The American Lung Association figures the tax increases will "encourage" about 120,000 adults to quit smoking. About 18 percent of adult New Yorkers were smokers in 2009 (around the median for all states), according to the Centers for Disease Control.

If you're more graphically inclined, there's a chart above. New York is marked in dark orange, adjacent states in a lighter orange.

Per pack cigarette taxes by state

Sources: The Campaign For Tobacco Free Kids and Wikipedia

photo: Flickr user courtney____


Quitting really sucks. But guess what sucks more? Being shunned from society, ingesting toxins and paying 9 freaking bucks a pack.

I'm so very glad I quit smoking many years ago. Not only is it gross, but wow - that's expensive. I could go out to eat at Prime every week, if not twice a week, with current prices. That makes me feel rich!

Tax it $10 a pack - and I'll cheer. Do you know what smokers cost our society in terms of treating lung and other cancers, respiratory disease and more?

Ready to go to war, cigarette opponents?

The Indians are. Google: indians block thruway 1997 burning tires

It's been shown time and again that nicotine is more addictive than any street drug. We offer people who suffer from those addictions free housing, free counseling. Raising the price of cigarettes wont stop those who are truly addicted. You will "cheer". Hold off on that til you see all the boot legging and all the people who already struggle financially struggle to freed their addictions. Its a poor tax. That's all it is. So rejoice in punishing them again!

That does it, I'm switching to weed, full time.

CommonSense has a point. The tax may help some people be inspired to quit, but other people have a harder time letting go. The people having the most difficulty will either dish out the dough, or obtain them through other means.

I don't know how long you can keep arguing that smoking is a "poor tax". Seems to me, at 9 bucks a pack, you'd have to be rich to smoke. As for free resources out there to help people quit, there are plenty. So, pardon my lack of sympathy for people who simply don't want to stop, especially considering their health care costs burden us all.

Rhode Island should be orange in the chart too. I know it's unlikely anyone is going to swim across the Sound for smokes, but it is technically adjacent. :)

@Barold brings up an interesting point.

When does the cost of cigarettes (by weight? by volume?) exceed the cost of weed?

Or is this an effort to make the cigarette tax more profitable than a tax on grass...:)

Explain to me, in the age of astronomical private health care costs, how being a smoker affects us all? In that case, people PLEASE, stop being so selfish, driving your cars with wheels and engines that may get into accidents because I dont want to pay high premiums for them to put your skull back together when you accidentially drive in to a tree.
And Barold - if they could figure out how to let people be open with their weed consumption, I can only imagine the tax on that.
Is it just me, or are there quite a few right-winged peeps on here? Find that surprising.

While I agree that people can just hop over to RI for whatever reason (I do), even tough the taxes are only slightly lower; technically RI is not adjacent to NY.,-71.535820%20%2854%20Bates%20Ave,%20Coventry,%20RI%2002816,%20USA%29

Getting in a car accident is not a choice. Smoking is. Believe me, I'm not even close to right-wing. I'm just a tough-love realist.

And addiction has been said to be a disease, not a choice.

American Society of Addiction Medicine has this definition for Addiction: Addiction is a primary, chronic disease of brain reward, motivation, memory and related circuitry. Dysfunction in these circuits leads to characteristic biological, psychological, social and spiritual manifestations. This is reflected in the individual pursuing reward and/or relief by substance use and other behaviors. Addiction is characterized by impairment in behavioral control, craving, inability to consistently abstain, and diminished recognition of significant problems with one’s behaviors and interpersonal relationships. Like other chronic diseases, addiction involves cycles of relapse and remission. Without treatment or engagement in recovery activities, addiction is progressive and can result in disability or premature death. YUp

The cognitive dissonance I'm feeling from seeing "CommonSense" below some of these words is bewildering.

To begin with, smoking carries a guaranteed, inherent risk; that is, every time you smoke, the act of smoking harms you. Driving a car is flatly not comparable; it carries an incidental risk. You are not breaking your sternum little by little or just severing nanometers of your spinal cord every time you turn the key.

By smoking, you are guaranteeing that, barring extenuating circumstances, you will require additional medical attention due to said smoking and currently those of us who carry medical insurance are shouldering part of the cost of that attention. In comparison, it is only because of extenuating circumstances (i.e., an accident) that anyone will be harmed in an automobile, and thus sharing the burden among the insured who carry personal injury protection coverage.

Furthermore, one can opt out of auto insurance by not having a car. I can't quite wrap my head around opting out of health insurance by not having a fsking body. But please, "explain to me, in the age of astronomical private health care costs" how I can do that because it would save me a goddamn lot of money.

That's a start, not sure where to go from there, but feel free to avail us of your conservative/libertarian uhhhhhh, "common sense".

I understand the state is in dept, but climbing out of it on the backs of the addicted is fairly disgusting, regardless of the habit. Cut a State Senator's pet project or five and call it a day.

Hey Commonsense were Tiger Woods' attorney?? It wasn't his choice to sleep with 200 random women! Can't you see it was his addiction that made him do it?

You're making this out to be much more complicated then it needs to be. Plain and simple, people CHOOSE to smoke. No one makes them purchase cigarettes or put them to their lips to puff away on them. How do they effect people who choose not to? Easy - we inhale second hand smoke, we have to look at their disgusting butts all over our sidewalks and beaches, and YES because of them our health care costs are driven up! These are facts and are not debateable. This isn't like "driving a car," it's more like when people make the conscious decision to drive drunk.

I wish I could come up with this quote myself, but it was a friend of mine that once said:

"I stop paying attention after 3 sentences."

Do you hear that AoA blog people?

This tax was passed completely for financial reasons. You better hope it doesn't work too well because this state is screwed without this money.

Right on ph and B! My point exactly. So obvious, it insists upon itself. Thank you for clarifying for me and AOA what I should have thought in the first place. One person who sees what politics really is Charlie. I was waiting for someone to fill in that blank. We want people to stop smoking in this state, tell yourselves that- HELLS TO THE NO if we want their cash.
Poor tax. It is.
And thats the FIRST time I was called a libertarian! Ha!

Of course it's all about the politics and the financials, but that doesn't change the fact that smoking harms us all. If there are fewer people billowing out smoke while walking in front of me because of this tax, I'm all for it. And while continued use of vice leads to addiction, it is something that can be reversed with willpower. I'm glad that we have resources to support people who are trying to quit addictions, but people who "can't" quit simply don't want to do the work or expend the willpower.

Real mess here in the Empire State, eh? Sure, folks shouldn't smoke. Not cuz whatever you're breathing on the sidewalk behind them is doing you specially more harm than what's coming out of the bus and cars idling at the light (or any harm at all), or a thousand other things you can't finger so easily.

It's worth considering, though, that the U.S. state with the artificially highest tobacco tax is necessarily the capital of tobacco bootlegging. The higher the distortion the greater the criminal opportunity. Transactions are larger, and more guns protect them. When $1 million in cigarettes fits in a small-ish truck, guns and professional criminals are on-board as well, and they travel to more locations, not just cities. Imagine a state trooper in, say, Hornell, or Amsterdam, who's dead because he chanced upon a cigarette buy. I'm not okay with making that a more likely thing.

"Legal but rare" is the right fit for so many social quandaries. New York's done a lot to cast public smoking policy within that frame, but I worry that it's overreaching here, and there will be corrosive costs.


"Imagine a state trooper in, say, Hornell, or Amsterdam, who's dead because he chanced upon a cigarette buy. I'm not okay with making that a more likely thing."

Lou, has-- has anything like that happened?

Honestly curious.

Lou, has-- has anything like that happened?

Who can say? My point is that these things aren't elastic in a nice-nice suburban way. The fellahs in my bodega know they're a bigger target. The guy who wouldn't quite burglarize them yesterday -- and they're robbed a few times per year -- will tomorrow, because their stock is thousands of dollars more valuable.

More generally, this is New York -- an exaggerated land that suffers exaggerated effects from exaggerated state-wide policy. Organized crime activity in NYC rides the Thruway. Hope someone has thought this through, cuz there's absolutely a point of diminishing returns with sin taxes. The black market will take its cut. We'll see who gets hurt and how much, or maybe we'll be busy selecting $4 dog biscuits and won't notice.


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