Cigarette taxes 'Disproportionately burden' the poor, report says

September 18, 2012
Cigarette taxes 'Disproportionately burden' the poor, report says
Found low-income smokers spent 25% of income on the habit, compared with only 2% among those better off.

(HealthDay)—New research finds that high cigarette taxes take a heavy toll on low-income smokers, compared to those who are wealthier.

In a study, researchers at RTI International found that poor in New York state—which has the country's highest state cigarette tax at $4.35 a pack—spent about 25 percent of their on cigarettes. Nationally, the average spending was about 14 percent.

By contrast, the richest smokers nationwide and in New York spent about 2 percent of their household income on cigarettes.

"Excise taxes are effective in changing smokers' behavior," study author Matthew Farrelly, chief scientist and senior director of RTI's 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."

Despite the high taxes in New York state, the study found that the percentage of people with incomes under $25,000 who smoked didn't decline from 2003-2004 to 2009-2010.

"Special efforts are needed to reduce smoking among those with low incomes," Farrelly said. "States, especially New York, generate significant revenue from cigarette taxes, but only a small percentage of that money is used for tobacco control programs. It seems only fair that states with high cigarette taxes should adequately fund cessation interventions for low-income smokers who shoulder a disproportionate share of cigarette taxes."

The researchers relied on surveys of more than 13,000 people.

The study, funded by New York State Health Department, appeared Sept. 12 in the journal .

Explore further: States' efforts to boost cigarette taxes slows: CDC

More information: For more about smoking, try the U.S. National Library of Medicine.


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5 comments

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Shootist
1 / 5 (1) Sep 18, 2012
Cigarette taxes 'Disproportionately burden' the poor, report says


Because the poor "disproportionately" smoke cigarettes.

In the rush to demonize and control the behavior of others stupid liberals didn't see that one coming, did they?
DarkHorse66
not rated yet Sep 18, 2012
Cigarette taxes 'Disproportionately burden' the poor, report says


Because the poor "disproportionately" smoke cigarettes.

That's not at all what they meant. Regardless of the fact that a greater proportion of poor do smoke, the 'disproportion' being referred to here, is relative to income, NOT to smokers' numbers. What I DO question is the 25% of income that they refer to here. Assuming a pack a day habit, $4.35 * 7 = $30.45/week. If this is 25% of weekly income, then the total income would be $121.80/week! Is the basic unemployment rate REALLY that low in America? And that's not even taking into account paying the rent out of this amount. Best Regards, DH66
AkiBola
3 / 5 (2) Sep 18, 2012
Obviously we need a new welfare program to end this discrimination against poor people. How about $250/month in a new TBT (tobacco benefit transfer) card, or should it be more?
dnatwork
5 / 5 (1) Sep 18, 2012
I'm baffled by the headline and conclusions. Cigarette taxes, especially in New York, are intended to discourage smoking by making it less affordable. It is not a burden, it is supposed to lead to health benefits when you decide you can't afford to smoke.
alfie_null
not rated yet Sep 23, 2012
not all smokers are able to quit

Not true. It's a question of motivation vs. addiction. Addiction is different for different people, but it's never infinite. Making statements like that is akin to giving up on discovering new ways to motivate.

Does being poor make people smoke more? I'm not surprised. Aside from possible factors like education and social context. being poor is stressful.

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