Taxes’ impact on smoking rates? What a drag


Photo by J.L. Trinh

If you're searching for the perfect incentive to quit smoking, look no further than your wallet.

According to this USA Today report, heavy smoking-related taxes are resulting in significant drops in the consumption of tobacco products in the United States. Quoting from the article:

"The amount of decline in smoking is directly tied to the size of the tax increase. Cigarette sales fell 18 percent in North Carolina last year after the tax was raised in two steps to 35 cents from a nickel. The tobacco-growing state resisted higher cigarette taxes until 2005. Elsewhere:

  • "Connecticut has increased its tax to $1.51 from 50 cents per pack in 2002. Since then, per capita consumption of cigarettes has fallen 37 percent.
  • "New Jersey raised its tax to $2.40 from 80 cents in 2002. Smoking has dropped 35 percent.
  • "California raised its cigarette tax to 87 cents per pack in 1999 but hasn't changed it since. Smoking is down 18 percent since the tax increase.
  • "By comparison, South Carolina has kept its lowest-in-the-nation cigarette tax at 7 cents since 1977. Cigarette consumption there has fallen 5 percent since 2000."

All of this comes just as Congress is considering "the biggest federal cigarette tax hike in history," the article states.

Taxes, it turns out, might just be good for you. Thoughts?


Bill Sheridan