High cigarette prices aren't stopping smokers

A majority of smokers say high taxes on cigarettes are unjust and do little to dissuade them from the habit, according to a new Gallup poll. 

In the survey, 58 percent of smokers say tax hikes on cigarettes are unjust, while only 39 percent say they are justified.


State and local governments have been using tax hikes on cigarettes to dissuade smoking, and in some cases to fund public health programs.

Gallup says the median state cigarette tax is $1.36 per pack and the federal government adds another $1.01 on top of that. In places such as New York City, the combined taxes tag on $5.85 to a pack of cigarettes, which is often more than the actual cost of the cigarettes.

However, 71 percent of smokers say they don’t smoke less because of the higher cost and only 26 percent say they do. 

“Still, other researchers conclude that higher cigarette prices do reduce smoking rates among certain subgroups, such as the young,” adds Gallup.

While many smokers say they are against the higher cigarette taxes, most also think bans on smoking in public are OK.

Fifty-eight percent of smokers say restrictions on smoking in public spaces are justified while 37 percent say it is unjustified.

“While these restrictions certainly make it more challenging for smokers to light up in public places, they generally do not seem to lead to smokers cutting back,” said Gallup. “Three-quarters of smokers say they are not smoking less because of these restrictions.”