Half of cigarettes in NY come from black market
More than half the cigarettes sold in the state of New York are smuggled in to avoid the sky-high taxes, says the Tax Foundation. New York has the highest tobacco taxes in the country at $4.35 a pack, pushing the price for a single pack near the $10 mark - more in New York city.
Tobacco taxes have gone up 200% in the state since 2006 and while use of tobacoo has been declining - and more importantly, there has been a drop in the rate of young people starting - the cost is going to be an uptick in gang violence as cigarette smuggling becomes more profitable than crack, meth, or heroin sales.
Taxes on cigarettes, which are designed to discourage smoking, vary widely. States such as Missouri, North Carolina and Virginia have levies of less than a $1 per pack. These wide differences make smuggling "both a national problem and a lucrative criminal enterprise," according to the Tax Foundation.
Antismoking activists have long argued that fewer people will buy cigarettes if they're expensive. Chicago recently raised its cigarette taxes for that reason. Combined with state and local levies, the total is now $7.17 a pack.
The smuggling problem "is a lot smaller than the study lets on," said Thomas Carr, director of national policy at the American Lung Association, noting that the Tax Foundation's data come from the Mackinac Center for Public Policy, which has received funding from the tobacco industry. "Tobacco companies are generally against higher tobacco taxes."
Note that the anti-smoking advocate dismisses the study because the source recieves money from the industry, not because they have any specific critique of the facts and figures found in the paper. We see this all the time from global warming advocates who find it easier to dismiss skeptics simply by saying that they are being funded by Big Oil, rather than offer valid criticism of their conclusions.
When I was in downtown Chicago a couple of years ago attending a Heartland conference on climate change, everytime I walked out the front door of the hotel to grab a smoke, 3 or 4 neatly dressed, working class Chicagoans would come up to me and offer me a dollar for a cigarette. I can still afford to smoke, but many can't and while you might say that's good for them, it should rankle that the citizen is not making the decision to quit, government is forcing the issue. Is that really a precedent we want to see in the future.
Make no mstake. If the hyocritical politicians who rail against a product that they rightly say is dangerous and unhealthy while pocketing millions in tax revenue, ever get around to banning cigarettes, it will only be the beginning. What's next as far as slapping punitive taxes on unhealthy products? How expensive will sugary drinks get? Or salty snacks? Or fast food?
First, they came for the smokers...