NYS cigarette excise tax increases $1 today
New York state’s cigarette excise tax increases today.
The tax is rising $1 per pack of 20 cigarettes, and $1 per pack of 20 small cigars, increasing the tax from $4.35 to $5.35 per pack. Mike Seilback, National Assistant Vice President for state policy for the American Lung Association sees the hike as a major milestone.
"Today, New York becomes the nationwide leader for having the highest cigarette tax in the nation," Seilback said. "And the Lung Association is really encouraged by this news, because we know, when the price of cigarettes go up, the amount of cigarettes being smoked goes down. Where we believe that with today's increased tax, we're going to see less New Yorkers start using these products, less New York kids are going to ever start smoking."
Kent Sopris with the New York Association of Convenience Stores says the price hike will send customers elsewhere.
"They're going to go to illicit retailers that sell cigarettes for a lower price, significantly lower price, or they're going to go to Native reservations or they'll go to other states. Additionally, these illegal retailers, they're the ones who are selling these disposable flavored vapes, which have been banned in New York state since 2019," Sopris said.
The Asian American Retailers Association, Bodega and Small Business Group and Yemeni American Merchants Association issued a joint statement which says in part "a staggering 54% of cigarettes consumed in the state are sold illegally. Legitimate, taxpaying stores are forced to compete with unscrupulous retailers and individuals selling cigarettes on street corners."
According to the Mackinac Center for Public Policy, the added tax on cigarettes will hike illegal sales to 66%. Cigarette tax revenue is also expected to drop by 7.8% or $72.3 million.
Sopris says luckily small retailers like convenience stores and bodegas are very resilient.
"They adapt very quickly. However, it is increasingly hard to do business not only with increasing in certain products, or just the cost of business increases, electricity, labor, I've heard fees, convenience stores, everybody's got their favorite convenience store, they're all throughout. Sure you stop by one, you know, like your favorite one every day. We're the stores that folks turn to when they need some comfort. And it is harder to do business," said Sopris.
Jeannie Orr is the community engagement coordinator for Capital District Tobacco-Free Communities. She points out that the higher smoking rates among lower income groups means they suffer disproportionately more from smoking and pay more in healthcare costs.
"When you increase the price of tobacco by 10%, that you will decrease tobacco consumption by 4%," Orr said. "And that's always good news. Because tobacco use is still the number one preventable cause of death. It causes so many issues for people's lives, not only their health but economically as well. The adult smoking rate is at 12% for the general population. And then for those who make less than $25,000 a year, as of 2021, it was 20.4%."
Orr agrees with The American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network's expectation that the tax hike will likely save the lives of more than 15,000 New Yorkers and prevent upwards of 14,000 people under the age of 18 from smoking.