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Cigarette Taxes Go Up As States Seek To Close Budget Gaps

July 6, 2010 by  

Cigarette taxes go up as states seek to close budget gaps Plagued by ballooning budget deficits, five states across the nation raised cigarette taxes on July 1 in an effort to close those gaps. However, opponents argue that this approach may be counterproductive, as it may cost businesses more in terms of lost sales.

The affected states are New York —where the increase has been the highest, from $1.60 to $4.35 per pack—Hawaii (40 cents to $3), New Mexico (75 cents to $1.66 ), South Carolina (50 cents to 57 cents) and Utah ($1 to $1.70).

Many local politicians chose to stress the alleged health benefits of smoking cessation, which some believe will come about as a result of the taxes. This has been echoed by Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, which called the measure a win-win for the states.

"These actions… are a huge victory for the nation’s health that will save many lives and billions of dollars in tobacco-related healthcare costs," said Matthew L. Myers, the campaign’s president.

However, critics counter that the tax hike will jeopardize businesses while having a negligible effect on public health. In particular, many believe that smokers will simply travel to neighboring states or order cigarettes online.

For instance, Deseret News, a local newspaper in Utah, cited the example of Jeanie’s Smoke Shop in Salt Lake City that has been forced to shut down this week after decades in business because of dwindling numbers of customers put off by higher taxes on cigarettes, pipe tobacco and cigars.ADNFCR-1961-ID-19869572-ADNFCR

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  • Ken Kelly

    The power to tax is the power to destroy. The tobacco industry is but the tip of the spear – and has been for several decades.
    Remember in November.

  • Norma

    Here in Oklahoma smokers are but 24% of the population. Yet the smokers have been charged with building a state of the art cancer center by the tax applied to cigarettes. A center that everyone is open to use…paid for by a minority of the population. That was done about 4 years ago, then about a year ago the prices nearly doubled in the nation…the number of smokers has not changed much even after that raise.

    Those are very unfair examples of what is happening, but I believe there is still more to come!

    I think the CIA knows that there will be a change in the marijuana laws soon and they won’t be able to count on the black market revenues much longer so they are gearing up to make tobacco a black market item.

    We’ll see!

    • Dan Burke

      I am non-smoker and honestly think smoking is destructive. However, with that being said, I do not agree with this tax increase. Why? Because it is a perilous trap to think that we simply tax what we think is destroying our neighbors. It is this thinking of creating laws and taxes to “encourage” behavior that we think of as healthy that creates more laws and more taxes until every aspect of our lives is controlled and we no longer have the freedoms we once enjoyed. And will those new laws and taxes make us healthier? No. My guess is that not even this cigarette tax hike will truly fix anything. For example, if you drive the smokers from smoking, then you still have the budget shortfall that must be fixed. So what next? Raise everyone’s taxes? Perhaps what should have been done is cut spending in the first place. In fact, raising cigarette taxes might cause those who couldn’t budget in the first place to spend more and create more programs so that when the budget must eventually be cut it will be harder to do (we never learned our lesson in the first place…). Secondly, will it really make life better for the smokers? You can show some immediate “benefits” but there are plenty of bad habits and you didn’t really give the chance to quit on their own…. so what is to stop America from finding a new bad habit to replace smoking? And even so, even if it successful, what to you tax next? Sugar? Meats? Fast food? Ugh!!! I might not like smoking and think it stinks something awful. I was actually like the one cruise I have been on, a no-smoking cruise ship where they would actually throw you off if caught with smoking materials in your cabin. You signed so many documents regarding it that I was surprised that people still did it and it wasn’t uncommon to see luggage on the dock at the ports of call. That was a free market solution. Those of us who loved the smoke free setting loved the cruise and would have returned as often as we could afford it (which for me meant I couldn’t afford another cruise, but I think you get the point). As a fan of the free market, this also means I might not go to restaurants that offer a smoking section. That is my own free choice. It doesn’t mean that I thought government should mandate how the businesses do their business. Some businesses actually got our repeat business because that is where my wife could eat without getting a migraine (I just find it disgusting, my wife and my mother are actually both sensitive to it with my mother having a more severe reaction…).

  • The Munz

    many people will now be quitting smoking in NY that a pack of cigarettes is now $10.00 or there abouts. Of course NYS is using these outrageous revenues for it’s out of control spending habits. So when they dry up taxes from cigarettes they will just tax something else.

    Do you really think that they will cut the health care programs for children that the taxes are being used for? Of course not.

    EVERYONE should be complaining about this …

    Consider this, attributed to a Pastor Martin Niemoeller, an early supporter for Hitler who eventually ended up in the camps:
    When the Nazis came for the communists,
    I remained silent;
    I was not a communist.
    When they locked up the social democrats,
    I remained silent;
    I was not a social democrat.
    When they came for the trade unionists,
    I did not speak out;
    I was not a trade unionist.
    When they came for the Jews,
    I remained silent;
    I was not a Jew.
    When they came for me,
    there was no one left to speak out.

    • JC


  • Bonita

    I am tired of the Government (State and Federal) raising taxes! They cannot seem to stay within their budget so they make up ways to receive more dollars to cover their mistakes. Yet, WE the citizens have no choice but to live within our budget by not buying what we can not afford. What happened to their mind?

  • s c

    Probably, we owe it to ourselves to END the tobacco habit. Tobacco growers [can you say Connecticut? can you say Biden?] benefit from government subsidies, Big Pharma benefits from unscientific therapies related to tobacco-related health problems, elected career criminals get to stay in Washington for what seems like forever, and the cycle repeats itself from one generation to the next.
    Our parents got screwed. We get screwed. The next crop of tax slaves gets screwed. Their kids get screwed.
    When government has to resort to increasing taxes to compensate for dwindling revenues, it should be obvious to everyone that what matters most to government is an UNINTERRUPTED CASH FLOW [people in Oklahoma understand that]. The idea that Uncle SCAM is somehow taking care of Americans is IRRELEVANT, SELF-DEFEATING and is an ABSOLUTE LIE.
    Score one for treasonous Big Mother-Brother. Score zero for America.

  • JS in WA

    It’s a great idea to increase tax on cigarettes. It may act as an incentive for smokers to quit. The health cost from the hazards of smoking is incredible. The poisonous chemicals from cigarette smoke is killing people. Including the ones who don’t smoke. 1st hand (the smoker), 2nd hand (the smoke in the air) and even 3rd hand smoke (the chemicals that remain on objects from the smoke) is devastating the health of American. Exposure to cigarette smoke was the cause of death of my mother.

    Write to your senators and representatives, requesting the extra tax be used only on health care costs. And that you’ll be voting in November.



    • JC

      JS…the government rakes in 9 times the cost of health care for smokers, in taxes. That means they are paying for 9 times their own number that recieve health care. Where do you think that money will come from if not from them?

    • Angel-Wanna-Be

      My Grandmother had one of the worse cases of emphysema, the doctors had ever seen, She never smoked in her life, nor was she around ANYONE WHO DID!___I had a great uncle who smoked right up to his death, at 97 years of age?!!__We all die friend, when your numbers up, your outta here!__

      • http://?? Joe H.

        Look at George Burns. he smoked 5 or 6 of those big stogies a day all of his adult life. Inhaled, too! Died early at what 98 years old???

    • rusty

      Condolences on the death of your mother. That being said, just know while cigarette smoke isn’t pleasant to be around and there are many folks sensitive to it, no one dies from 2nd hand cigarette smoke. I don’t know who told you that but if that was the case, there would be millions more people dying every day from 2nd hand smoke. I’m assuming (maybe rightly, maybe wrongly) that the person who told you your mother’s death was caused by 2nd hand smoke was telling you to frighten you in order to keep you from taking up smoking yourself. If you have your mother’s death certificate, it will list the real cause of her death, on the certificate. Again, my sincere condolences. It’s really hard losing a parent, especially a mother. I know, I lost mine too.

    • mickey

      My mom died too supposedly from smoke, only she didn’t smoke. My brother has lung cancer, hasn’t smoked for 40 yrs and not around smokers. The government cheats the people every way they can. Our lottery was supposed to go to schools, got used where? We used to have a millionaire almost every week until the gov got greedy. Imagine a whole state full of millionaires. would you like to live here? Instead of producing something useful, which people with money do, the gov took it and we don’t know where it went. When is the last commercial you saw directing kids away from smoking? For any one else, I use an e-cigarette. Cheap and I buy on line.

  • JeffH

    A classic case of eliminating tobacco…tax it out of existence!
    This is exactly what the anti-gun proponents will do with guns and ammunition if they are allowed by the people to continue to ruin/run this country. I dis-like cigarettes and the smoke, but I won’t forsake those freedoms from another to partake, whether I like it or not. Another classic case of liberalism.

    • http://n/a valerie

      JeffH, you are EXACTLY correct!

    • JC

      Jeff, I’m a smoker but non-drinker. I guess using the rationale of the anti smokers I could say that alcohol kills people ruins families and only has a temporary benefit of making ugly people beautiful…so it should be taxed out of existence.
      But, like you I don’t. Like you, I say freedom of choice is what makes the world go round and no amount of government is ever going to fix anything that free people shouldn’t fix themselves.
      Have a good one.

      • Angel-Wanna-Be

        JC, I smoke too, and I have no problem at all, not smoking in restaurants. But then non smoking went to malls, open air football games, bars and now whole campus’s!!. My quibble is, that my money spends just like a non-smoker, and I’m tired of being treated like we’re some kind of lepers___If smoking is that bad for us, THEN BAN IT!!!__But I’ll lay ya two to one, the feds will never ban it_ why?__, because the Feds like the millions of dollars they make, off of the tobacoo industry!

        • http://?? Joe H.

          When they wanted to build the new Cleveland indians stadium, they did it with a tax from the smokers. Then when they got ready to open it, they said that there would be no smoking there.There was such a stink raised that they came up with designated areas!!! People were even talking about boycotting it!!

    • Angel-Wanna-Be

      Your right Jeff, they’ll run the tobacco industry under ground, just like they did booze in Prohibition Era.__There’s a hell-of-a-lot of people I know personally, who roll they’re own tobacco, it’s a lot cheaper than $5 a pack.__Quite shortly I’ll be one of them!__

    • JeffH

      That is the difference between “us and them”, we believe in freedom and they believe in restricting freedom, we believe in choice and they believe they should make the choice for everyone, we believe in balancing a budget they believe in out of control spending and higher taxation, we believe in self responsibility they believe in no responsibility, we believe in working for a living they believe if you don’t want to work we should pay for you anyway…the list of differences is too endless…to go on with.

  • Jamey Ganeaux

    I am thinking of ordering cigarettes from overseas. Has anyone ever done this before?

    • JC

      Don’t order them from Libya ;)

      • Jamey Ganeaux

        What happens if I order from Lybia?

    • Angel-Wanna-Be

      Jamey, no I haven’t!___But I’m quite certain there’s a limit as to how many you can buy. It’s that way here in the US.

      • Jamey Ganeaux

        Does anyone know of anybody who has ordered from Europe? It looks like a heck of a deal.

  • David Harrison

    Serious medical researchers in Europe have ranked nicotine as the most effective anti-depressant substance available when compared to all of the pharmaceutical serotonin enhancers (Zoloft, Paxil, Prozac, etc., and many European ones not available in the USA). Could it possibly be true that the huge anti-smoking campaign in the USA and the distortion of the scientific data “proving” the harm from smoking tobacco is all funded and pushed by big pharma to increase their sales? It makes you wonder!

    • JC

      Don’t forget the rubber stamped smoking cessation products…that may not be right for you. Side may effects include bleeding from the nasal passages and other orifice’s, liver failure, still birth, hairy armpits, the urge to climb trees and howl at the moon, death, clown feet, exploding eye balls, projectile vomiting, blindness, pigeon toes, dental decay or loss, profound mucus emissions, loose bowel syndrome, whininess and the urge to vote for a liberal….Talk to your Doctor. ;)

      • Angel-Wanna-Be

        JC, ROFLMAO!!!!!!

      • http://?? Joe H.

        I’m gonna sue you for a new computer. I just spewed coke all over mine!!!! where in hades half acre do you come up with these???

      • JC

        Oh I don’t know…
        I guess I thought it was in keeping with the ridiculous ads on TV. :)
        I know I sure as hell won’t be taking anything that needs a 5 minute warning.

  • JC

    Side may effects? Doh!

  • June Gagnon

    Here’s a “side effect” no one mentioned!! The bigger the government, the higher the taxes on anything and everything!! Duhhhhh – - – - -

  • Jim

    30 percent of us smoke and 70 percent don’t. I think the goverment should tax nonsmokers. Think of the revenue their missing. Sounds fair to me. Also let them tax booze like they tax cigarettes. Never heard of anyone smokimg a pack of cigarettes then going home and beating the hell out of the wife. Any of you smokers feel the same?

  • Bill Stanley

    Politicians know that prohibition did not work. Now, they just tax products out of existence.

  • Mace

    I agree with Jim. I Emailed my congressman years ago and told him they should put a higher tax on booze. I said I can chain smoke a pack of cigarettes and never cross the yellow line one time. I like a beer now and then myself.
    You know that the problems that booze causes are greater than the problems caused by smoking. When a drinker hits another car, he can kill 4 or 5 people at once. The rehabs are full of drinkers and who pays for most of them?
    Drunk people shoot or stab each other or are more likely to steal from or kill someone else. Most of the time it’s taxpayer money that pays for treatment.
    The main reason I think the tax on booze isn’t raised is because of the fact, “What would all of those Whitehouse people drink at their parties?”
    I believe they enjoy it too much and can’t function without it.
    This would also deter the kids from buying it.

    • http://?? Joe H.

      Careful there! Us tax payers pay enough now as it is. Imagine how much our tax bill will rise if they raise the tax on booze. Nan P-lousy would still be flying and boozing!!!!! I can’t afford to pay 3/4 of my income!!!!

  • mavis


  • weight loss

    It’s onerous to seek out educated individuals on this topic, but you sound like you already know what you’re speaking about! Thanks

  • Richard Elliam

    a cigarette smoker should quit smoking as soon as possible to minimize health risks like cancer. :

    Our favorite web page


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