Smoking Tax

Cigarette Tax To Impact California Smokers In A Big Way Starting Today

A new California cigarette tax is taking effect today, and it is no April Fool’s joke. An additional $2.00 per pack will now be charged on each pack of cigarettes. California smokers have known about the impending cigarette tax since November, when Proposition 56 was passed, and it has prompted some smokers to stock up on cartons of cigarettes in advance of the tax, while others are deciding to try and kick the nicotine habit for good…which, of course, is the desired effect that California legislators are hoping for.

Smoking Tax
[Image by Matt Cardy/Getty Images]

This new, hefty cigarette tax is just the latest in a serious series of attacks on tobacco by California lawmakers. Just last year, California law made it illegal for anyone under the age of 21 to purchase tobacco products. Additionally, all kindergarten through 12th-grade campuses in the entire state of California are now cigarette-free no smoking zones. California is also now one of the first states to legally give no distinction between vaping and e-cigarettes, and smoking tobacco. This last attack has been seen as a particularly successful push into dissuading teenagers from taking up the nicotine habit, a habit that could easily sprout into full-fledged cigarette use, as vaping and e-cigarettes have become especially popular with that age bracket.

The California $2.00 cigarette tax that takes effect today (which equals out to a $2.87 total tax on each pack), still only makes California the ninth highest cigarette tax in the nation. Currently, the state with the highest cigarette tax is New York, at $4.35. Most states’ tax cigarettes at a rate between $1.00 and $3.00 according to Tobacco Free Kids, though there are several states in the south and in the west that tax less than a dollar.

So, do cigarette taxes like the one that California implemented today actually work to reduce the number of smokers?

According to the National Bureau of Economic Research, raising taxes on cigarettes does not necessarily cause any sort of major decrease in adult smoking. The NBER looked at “recent, large tax changes,” and the numbers of cigarettes sold before and after those tax changes were implemented. After doing their study, they came to the conclusion that a cigarette tax hike had little to no effect on adult smokers. Furthermore, their study indicated that it would take a substantial cigarette tax hike (much higher than California’s) on the order of 100 percent to even decrease adult smoking by a measly five percent.

Whether or not the cigarette tax hike in California ends up working, statistics show that cigarette use has been on the decline in California since the late 1980’s. According to California Department of Public Health, adult smoking has been cut in half since 1989, when a comprehensive tobacco control program was implemented. Between 1989 and 2014, the use of cigarettes by adults in California dropped from 23.7 percent to 11.6 percent, which equals approximately 3.3 million fewer adult smokers.

Smoking Tax
[Image by Andrew Burton/Getty Images]

What do you think? Despite what the data says, do you think the California cigarette tax will cause less people to smoke?

[Featured Image by Matt Cardy/Getty Images]

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