Cigarette prices per state vary between $5.25 and $12.85 per pack. With 20 cigarettes per pack, this ranges between $.26 and $.64 per cigarette.
Only two states are outliers, with cigarette prices above $10 per pack. Illinois charges $11.50 per pack, and New York charges $12.85 per pack. While both of these states have large populations, there is no correlation between state population and how much they charge for a pack of cigarettes.
The average cost for a pack of cigarettes is across all states is $6.96 per pack or an average of $.35 per cigarette. 17 states have cigarette prices that fall above this average, and 23 states have prices that fall below this average. This means that states tend to have lower cigarette prices than higher.
According to the American Lung Association, the average smoker has 15 cigarettes a day. On average, this costs them $5.25 a day, or $1,916.25 per year. In New York, the average smoker would spend $9.60 per day, or $3,504 every year. In the states that charge only $5.25 per pack (Missouri and Virginia), the average smoker would spend $3.90 a day, or $1,423.50 per year.*
Geographically, high cigarette prices tend to be concentrated in New York and the states north of it, which comprise the “New England” area, as well as the upper Midwest states of Illinois, Wisconsin, and Minnesota. Washington, Alaska, and Hawaii also have higher than average prices but are not concentrated in a geographic area.
The lowest prices are generally concentrated in the eastern states. The six lowest-priced states are Virginia, West Virginia, North Carolina, Kentucky, Tennessee, and Missouri. Louisiana and Alabama are also among the lowest prices for cigarettes.
The north Rocky Mountain States, including Idaho, Wyoming, and North Dakota also have low prices and are geographically concentrated. In general, northern states are more likely to have higher cigarette prices than southern states.
Cigarettes are taxed on both the federal and state levels and are subject to both state and local sales tax as well. The federal tax rate on cigarettes is $1.0066 per 20-pack of cigarettes. The average cigarette tax among states is $1.73 per 20-pack of cigarettes. Cigarette taxes range from $0.17 per pack in Missouri to $4.35 per pack in New York. Every state also has some kind of tax on non-cigarette tobacco products as well.
The federal tax rate on cigarettes has remained at $1.01 since 2009 and many people support an increase in the tax rate. One of the main reasons for the support of increased cigarette taxes is that the increase in taxes leads to a decrease in smoking rates. This is especially prevalent among teenagers. Additionally, every state that has increased its cigarette tax has enjoyed substantial increases in revenue. Lastly, national and state polls have consistently found that people are in support of tax increases for tobacco and prefer tax increases on tobacco products rather than cutting programs such as education.