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New York’s cigarette tax skyrockets to highest in U.S. on September 1

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  • Staff Report 

Starting September 1, New York State will impose the nation’s steepest cigarette tax, marking the state’s first cigarette tax increase since 2010. With the $1 increment, consumers will pay $5.35 per pack of 20 cigarettes, up from the previous $4.35. Studies suggest that for every 10% rise in tobacco prices, consumption may drop by about 4%.

Shana Carter from remarked on the continuing threat of tobacco, emphasizing its status as the top preventable cause of death in the U.S. Carter noted, “Tobacco companies use predatory marketing and flavored products to hook the youth and vulnerable populations. This tax increase is a commendable move by New York towards curbing these detrimental products.”

Data from the NYS Department of Health indicates that one in every five high school students uses tobacco. New York’s smoking-related health care expenses touch nearly $9.7 billion annually. The American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network believes this tax hike will save approximately 15,300 lives and deter 14,400 youths from becoming adult smokers. The Lung Association reported a staggering 28,170 annual smoking-related deaths in New York. Trevor Summerfield, the New York State Director of Advocacy for the American Lung Association, praised the state’s action, emphasizing how raising the tobacco tax can effectively deter smoking and ultimately save lives.

This tax increase is the latest among several tobacco control measures implemented by New York. The state elevated the minimum age for purchasing tobacco and vapor products to 21 in 2019 and introduced a 20% tax on vaping items. 2020 saw further restrictions on youth access to these products, including ending tobacco and vapor product sales in pharmacies. The state also launched the New York State Smokers’ Quitline to aid residents in overcoming tobacco or vape addiction.