New York Governor Kathy Hochul has proposed a significant tax hike on cigarettes and the prohibition of flavored tobacco products in her recent State of the State Address. The proposed plan would increase the tax on cigarettes by one dollar, from $4.35 to $5.35, making New York’s cigarette taxes among the highest in the nation. The proposal would also ban the sale of flavored tobacco products, including e-cigarettes and hookah.
“Tobacco is still the only product out on the market that when used as intended it causes death and disease,” said Abby Jenkins, a representative of Advancing Tobacco Free Communities. Jenkins also stated that while some may question the effectiveness of a one dollar tax hike, research suggests that increased prices of tobacco products can reduce tobacco use, assist adults in their quit attempts, and lower the youth initiation rate.
According to Tobacco Free New York, 28,000 adults die each year due to smoking or second-hand smoke. Studies also indicate that the use of flavored tobacco products appeals to young people. “Addressing flavors is so important in the fight against tobacco because flavors make tobacco products easier to use and harder to quit, and one thing that maybe hasn’t been noted as widely, is that menthol is one of the biggest flavors in tobacco that’s not always recognized as a flavor,” said Jenkins.
Adam Hoffer, Director of Excise Tax Policy at the Tax Foundation, commented on the proposed tax hike, stating that it could fuel the illicit market. “Over half the cigarettes consumed in the state of New York, are either purchased illegally – without any taxes paid on the black market – or they’re bought across borders,” said Hoffer. He also suggested that there may be better methods for generating revenue and creating a healthier New York. “We know that consumers do treat vaping as a smoking alternative so any efforts to get consumers to switch from cigarettes to vaping, will be a remarkable win for both the health of the individual and broader public health,” said Hoffer. Governor Hochul is expected to introduce this legislation during the current session.
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