The U.S. Surgeon General, in The Health Consequences of Smoking – 50 Years of Progress, released in January 2014 to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the first Surgeon General’s report on smoking in 1964, concluded that “increases in the prices of tobacco products, including those resulting from excise tax increases, prevent initiation of tobacco use, promote cessation and reduce the prevalence and intensity of tobacco use among youth and adults.”1
Research has clearly demonstrated that as the price of cigarettes increases, consumption decreases. For each 10% price increase, it is estimated that consumption drops by about 7% for youth and 3 to 5% for adults.2 Increasing taxes on tobacco products other than cigarettes is also important. While rates of cigarette smoking are declining, rates of cigar smoking and smokeless tobacco use are stagnant or increasing. Nationally, rates of cigar smoking among youth now exceed rates of cigarette smoking.
The grading system for State Tobacco Excise Taxes is a points-based system, with the level of a state’s cigarette tax worth up to 30 possible points and taxes on other tobacco products worth up to 10 possible points, for a total of 40 points available in the grading category.
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The Health Consequences of Smoking—50 Years of Progress: A Report of the Surgeon General. Atlanta, GA: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, Office on Smoking and Health, 2014.
There is general consensus among tobacco researchers that every 10 percent increase in the price of cigarettes decreases cigarette consumption by about 4 percent in adults and about 7 percent in children. Tauras J, et al. Effects of Price and Access Laws on Teenage Smoking Initiation: A National Longitudinal Analysis, Bridging the Gap Research, ImpacTeen. April 24, 2001.
Page last updated: January 19, 2023