The consequences of high cigarette excise taxes for low-income smokers

PLoS One. 2012;7(9):e43838. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0043838. Epub 2012 Sep 12.


Background: To illustrate the burden of high cigarette excise taxes on low-income smokers.

Methodology/principal findings: Using data from the New York and national Adult Tobacco Surveys from 2010-2011, we estimated how smoking prevalence, daily cigarette consumption, and share of annual income spent on cigarettes vary by annual income (less than $30,000; $30,000-$59,999; and more than $60,000). The 2010-2011 sample includes 7,536 adults and 1,294 smokers from New York and 3,777 adults and 748 smokers nationally. Overall, smoking prevalence is lower in New York (16.1%) than nationally (22.2%) and is strongly associated with income in New York and nationally (P<.001). Smoking prevalence ranges from 12.2% to 33.7% nationally and from 10.1% to 24.3% from the highest to lowest income group. In 2010-2011, the lowest income group spent 23.6% of annual household income on cigarettes in New York (up from 11.6% in 2003-2004) and 14.2% nationally. Daily cigarette consumption is not related to income.

Conclusions/significance: Although high cigarette taxes are an effective method for reducing cigarette smoking, they can impose a significant financial burden on low-income smokers.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Commerce / economics
  • Commerce / statistics & numerical data
  • Family Characteristics
  • Humans
  • Income* / statistics & numerical data
  • New York / epidemiology
  • Prevalence
  • Self Report
  • Smoking / economics*
  • Smoking / epidemiology
  • Taxes / economics*
  • Taxes / statistics & numerical data
  • Tobacco Products / economics*
  • Tobacco Products / statistics & numerical data

Grant support

Funding for the research was provided by the New York State Department of Health, The funders had no role in the study design, data collection and analysis.