A new report funded by the New York’s Dept. of Health found that the state’s high cigarette taxes disproportionately impact low-income smokers who spend a a high percentage of their income on the habit.
The study, conducted by RTI International, says that poor smokers in New York spent about 25 percent of their incomes on cigarettes, a figure inflated by New York’s highest-in-nation cigarette tax of $4.35 a pack. However, wealthy New York smokers spent just 2 percent of their incomes on cigarettes. Most smokers nationwide spent an average of 14 percent of their incomes on cigarettes, according to the report, which examined data from New York smokers and national Adult Tobacco Surveys from 2010-2011.
“Excise taxes are effective in changing smokers’ behavior,” study author Matthew Farrelly, chief scientist and senior director of RTI’s public health policy research program, said in an RTI statement. “But not all smokers are able to quit, and low-income smokers are disproportionately burdened by these taxes.”
The study also found that high taxes didn’t reduce smoking among low-income households and that only a small percentage of money raised from cigarette taxes is used for tobacco control programs.
To read the full report, click here.
Photo by Nati Harnik, AP