ALBANY, N.Y. (WTEN) — In her State of the State Address, Governor Hochul proposed plans to increase taxes on cigarettes and ban the sale of all flavored tobacco products. Under the proposal, taxes on cigarettes would increase one dollar; from $4.35 to $5.35, making New York cigarette taxes one of the highest in the nation. The proposal would also ban the sale of flavored tobacco products which are used in things like e-cigarettes and hookah. 

“Tobacco is still the only product out on the market that when used as intended it causes death and disease,” said Abby Jenkins with Advancing Tobacco Free Communities. Some may be wondering, will a one dollar tax hike really prevent New Yorkers from purchasing cigarettes? “And what we do know from research is that increased prices of tobacco will reduce tobacco use, it’ll assist adults in their quit attempts, and what’s really notable I think, is that it results in a lower youth initiation rate which is really important if we’re trying to create that tobacco free generation,” said Jenkins.

According to Tobacco Free New York, 28,000 adults die every year due to smoking or second hand smoking. Studies also show the use of flavored tobacco products appeal to young people. “Addressing flavors is so important in the fight against tobacco because flavors make tobacco products easier to use and harder to quit, and one thing that maybe hasn’t been noted as widely, is that menthol is one of the biggest flavors in tobacco that’s not always recognized as a flavor,” said Jenkins.

Adam Hoffer, Director of Excise Tax Policy at the Tax Foundation said the increase on cigarette taxes could fuel the illicit market, “Over half the cigarettes consumed in the state of New York, are either purchased illegally – without any taxes paid on the black market – or they’re bought across borders.” Hoffer said there are better methods the state can use to generate revenue and create a healthier New York. “We know that consumers do treat vaping as a smoking alternative so any efforts to get consumers to switch from cigarettes to vaping, will be a remarkable win for both the health of the individual and broader public health,” said Hoffer. The Governor is expected to introduce this legislation some time this session.