14 States Hiked Cigarette Taxes Last Year
By John Gramlich, Staff Writer
Fourteen states, the District of Columbia and the federal government raised cigarette taxes last year, according to a new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Cigarette taxes went up in Arkansas, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Hawaii, Kentucky, Mississippi, New Hampshire, New Jersey, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont and Wisconsin.
The increases ranged from 10 cents a pack in North Carolina to $1 a pack in Connecticut, Florida and Rhode Island, The Associated Press reported . Utah and New Mexico have raised cigarette taxes this year, while a handful of other states have considered doing so.
While health experts say higher cigarette taxes are an effective way to discourage smoking, the AP noted that the revenue collected from the tax hikes is being used primarily to help state governments, not smokers.
"Revenues from the taxes generally are used to shore up state budgets, but not to build programs to prevent smoking or to help smokers quit," the news service reported.
The North American Quitline Consortium, a nonprofit organization that researches and advocates for telephone lines to help smokers quit, noted in a separate report this week that state budget cuts are putting such services at risk, even as a record number of smokers in the United States are turning to them.