Study: High N.Y. Cigarette Taxes Help Cut Smoking Rates

Sep 25, 2012, 2:30 PM

New York’s high cigarette tax—the highest in the country, at $4.35 per pack—has helped the state cut smoking levels dramatically for both adults and high school students, according to a new study in PLoS One.

The state’s rate of adult smoking dropped by 28 percent from 2003 to 2010, while the national rate for the same period dropped only 11 percent. The rate for New York high school students dropped 38 percent from 2003 to 2011, compared to a national drop of 17 percent. There are approximately 664,000 adult smokers in New York.

While a clear contributor, a high cigarette tax is just one of the tactics that’s helped improve the state’s health, according to the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids. New York also has a comprehensive smoke-free air law, as well as prevention and cessation programs. Overall, these public health strategies have helped prevent more than 300,000 kids from smoking and saved approximately $11.6 billion in health care costs.

Despite the clear public health successes, Tobacco-Free Kids says more still needs to be done to help low-income New Yorkers quit smoking. While the study determined their smoking rate is also well below the national rate, 24.3 percent of New Yorkers earning less than $30,000 annually are smokers.

>> Read more on the study from the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids.

>> Read more on how tobacco taxes can help cut health care costs.


This commentary originally appeared on the RWJF New Public Health blog.