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NY Cigarette Tax Increase Takes Effect Today

June 3, 2008

Albany, NY - More kids will never start smoking, and more adults will quit. That's what anti-smoking activists hope will result from a rise in New York's tobacco tax going into effect today, by more than a dollar on a pack of cigarettes, up from the present rate of $1.50. Of course, some people aren't happy with that increase; they say it's unfair to place high taxes on physically-addicting products, and will cost jobs in places that sell tobacco.

Others, such as Michael Seilback with the American Lung Association of New York State, say it will encourage people to find a way to quit, and it will keep more kids from lighting up.

"Today, New York State becomes the national public health leader in terms of tobacco taxation. The tax on cigarettes is going to go up by $1.25 and that's going to lead directly to less people smoking here in New York."

Seilback says the formula is simple. As the tax number goes up, the number of people smoking goes down. He says smoking-related health problems drain the health care system, so encouraging people to kick the habit could potentially lower health costs for everyone.

"The higher the tax goes, the less people that are going to smoke. We are very happy today with the step the New York State government has taken to put the cigarette tax at $2.75." That will raise the cost of a pack of cigarettes to almost $7.00.

Seilback believes the tax increase will lead thousands of people to quit, or to never start smoking in the first place.

"This new increase is going to, hopefully, prevent over 75,000 kids from becoming smokers. It'll also encourage over 37,000 adults who are currently smoking. This will be the impetus to help them quit."

Not everyone is a fan of the tax increase. Some convenience stores that have seen historically-high sales of tobacco products say they will be hurt when sales decline, and that means job cuts.

Tony Gatto/Kevin Clay, Public News Service - NY