On Wednesday afternoon, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced a series of legislative proposals aimed at reducing the number of smokers in New York City by 160,000 over the next three years. De Blasio said, “big tobacco is public enemy #1.”
One proposal raises the minimum price of cigarettes and little cigars to $13 a pack from $10.50 and imposes a tax of 10 percent on other tobacco products, which is expected to generate revenue of $1 million annually dedicated for public housing.
Another proposal aims to reduce the number of stores selling tobacco products by capping the tobacco retail dealer licenses in each community district at 50 percent of the current number of licenses.
A third proposal would prohibit pharmacies, or retail stores that contain pharmacies, from selling tobacco products, including cigarettes.
This month in 1921, Iowa became the first state to enact a tax on cigarettes, rolling paper and associated paraphernalia. The tax was very modest, being just $1 per 1,000 cigarettes. Iowa today collects $1.36 per pack, ranking it just below the middle of states. The highest excise tax is levied by New York, a substantial $4.35. The lowest is found in Missouri — just $.17 cents per pack.
In 2014, state governments collected $17 billion in such taxes. Since 1997, the federal government has collected $157 billion in tobacco taxes. There are 29 cigarette manufacturers in the U.S., and some 126 cigarette brands on the market, with annual sales of over $31 billion.