It has been shown that increasing the cigarette tax is a very effective way to get young adults and youths to reduce or stop smoking. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that increasing the cigarette tax is less common with states at the present time compared to the past.
In 2009, 15 states increased the tax on cigarettes, but in 2010 and 2011, the number of states doing the same was only eight. The state of New Hampshire actually lowered the excise tax. The CDC has found that when excise taxes are increased on cigarettes, the overall sales of cigarettes declines and fewer teens start the smoking habit. Just recently the Surgeon General surprisingly discovered that 20% of teenagers smoke. The rate of smoking among teens is declining, but the decline is slowing at the present time. For this reason, it is puzzling that state taxes on cigarettes are being kept low.
Why have states changed direction on this issue? In the 1990s and the first part of the 2000s, states increased the cigarette tax while also increasing funding for comprehensive programs against smoking. Now they are doing the opposite.
The poor economic conditions may be partly responsible for the states shying away from increasing the cigarette tax at this time. Dr. Tim McAfee, of the CDC’s Office on Smoking and Health, disagrees. “These programs work to reduce smoking and the states will benefit from making the investment. From the economic perspective, you have to wonder why the states do not wish to reap the full benefit of the cigarette tax,” he said.