ALBANY, N.Y. (WTEN) — Taxes on cigarettes will be raised by one dollar come September 1. This is part of the Governor’s “Lead the Way For a Tobacco Free Generation,” but where does the tax money on cigarettes go? And will the price change actually lead to people quitting? Our Capitol Correspondent, Amal Tlaige spoke with experts and has those answers.
“New York is in a really interesting spot when it comes to raising its cigarette taxes; it already has the highest cigarette tax rate in the country,” said Adam Hoffer, Director of Excise Tax Policy at the Tax Foundation.
In September, taxes on cigarettes will amount to $5.35 a pack. Hoffer weighed in on whether or not this will lead to more people quitting, “Fewer people will buy it, but the real question is how many fewer? And when something that’s addictive, the answer is very few people will actually quit smoking because of this one dollar per pack tax increase.”
And where exactly does that money go? “The state of New York earmarks 76% of its cigarette tax revenue to health care. So that was about a billion dollars in total cigarette tax revenue collections last year,” said Hoffer. The remaining amount goes to the state’s general funds.
“We worked hard along with our advocates and other partners across the state to make sure that the cigarette tax in New York is the highest in the nation. We know that by doing so, it will lead to people quitting and also be a barrier for children,” said Trevor Summerfield, Director of Advocacy with the American Lung Association. He said research shows people are more likely to quit smoking when prices rise; he knows from experience. “I don’t talk about this a lot but I was a former smoker. I decided to quit when it became too expensive due to taxes and also just wrapping my head around the negative health consequences of smoking,” he said. If you’re looking to quit smoking you can visit Lung.org for additional information.