Apr. 9 2008
Washington, D.C. — New York's leaders have taken historic action to protect the state's kids and taxpayers from the devastating toll of tobacco use by increasing the state cigarette tax by $1.25 to $2.75 per pack. This is the single largest state cigarette tax increase ever enacted and gives New York the highest state cigarette tax in the nation. By supporting a high cigarette tax, New York legislators and Governor David Paterson have taken commendable action that will improve the health of New Yorkers for generations to come and continue the state's national leadership in the fight against tobacco use, the number one cause of preventable death in the United States.
The $1.25 cigarette tax increase is a win-win-win solution for New York — a health win that will reduce tobacco use and save lives, a financial win that will raise revenue to help alleviate budget shortfalls, and a political win that polls show is popular with the voters.
New York leaders have proven once again that they know what it takes to win the fight against tobacco use. New York is one of only a few states that have implemented all three of the most effective measures to reduce tobacco use — a higher cigarette tax, a comprehensive smoke-free workplace law and well-funded programs to prevent kids from smoking and help smokers quit. New York City also has implemented all of these measures. The next step is for New York to increase funding for its tobacco prevention and cessation programs to levels recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention so it can have the greatest impact in preventing and reducing tobacco use.
The evidence is clear that increasing the cigarette tax is one of the most effective ways to reduce smoking, especially among kids. Studies show that every 10 percent increase in the price of cigarettes reduces youth smoking by 7 percent and overall cigarette consumption by about 4 percent. New York can expect the $1.25 cigarette tax increase to prevent more than 243,000 New York kids alive today from smoking; spur 140,000 New York smokers to quit for good; save more than 37,000 New York residents from smoking-caused deaths; produce more than $5 billion in long-term health care savings; and raise about $436 million a year in new state revenue.
Tobacco use is the leading preventable cause of death and disease in New York, claiming more than 25,500 lives each year and costing the state $8 billion annually in health care bills, including $5.4 billion in Medicaid payments alone. Government expenditures related to tobacco amount to a hidden tax of $904 each year on every New York household. While New York has made significant progress in reducing youth smoking, 16.3 percent of New York high school students smoke, and 27,700 more kids become regular smokers every year.
With New York's tax increase, the average state cigarette tax is now $1.13 per pack. Since January 1, 2002, 44 states have increased cigarette taxes, some more than once. New York is one of 10 states with cigarette taxes of $2 or more. Twenty-five states and the District of Columbia have taxes of $1 or more.