The Price of a Pack
The average cost of a pack of cigarettes in the United States is $8.00, with average prices ranging from $6.11 (Missouri) to $11.96 (New York). The median price for a pack of cigarettes is $7.93. With 20 cigarettes per pack, the average cigarette costs between $0.31 and $0.60. Both the median and the average cost of a cigarette in the United States is $0.40.
Eleven states, along with the District of Columbia, have an average price above $10 per pack. Twenty-eight states have an average price that falls below the $8 national average.
The states with the highest cigarette prices are:
- New York ($11.96)
- Rhode Island ($11.71)*
- Connecticut ($11.60)
- Massachusetts ($11.11)
- Minnesota ($10.49)
- Alaska ($10.46)
- Hawaii ($10.41)
- Maryland ($10.26)
- Illinois ($10.60)
- Washington ($10.14)
*Were the District of Columbia included in this metric, it would have the nation’s second-most expensive pack price at $11.75.
The states with the lowest cigarette prices are:
- North Dakota
- North Carolina
- South Carolina
Overall, the average price of cigarettes is on the rise in the United States, with an average increase of $1.50 per pack since 2018.
Average Annual Costs
According to The American Lung Association, The average daily smoker smokes 15 cigarettes a day. The price of this habit sits at a national average of $6 a day, or $2,190 per year. In New York, the average smoker would spend $8.97 per day, or $3,274.04 every year. In Missouri, the cheapest state for smokers, the average daily smoker would spend $4.58 a day, or $1672.61 per year.
Geographically, high cigarette prices tend to be concentrated in states along the northern coasts, such as New York and Washington D.C. in the Mid-Atlantic region, Rhode Island and Connecticut in the “New England” area, Illinois and Wisconsin along the Great Lakes in the upper Midwest, and Washington, Oregon, and California on the West Coast. The non-contiguous states, Hawaii and Alaska, are also home to some of the nation’s highest cigarette prices.
The lowest prices are generally concentrated in the Southern and Great Plains regions, where all states have an average price below the national average.
Taxation & Cigarettes
Cigarettes are taxed on both the federal and state levels and, in some instances, are subject to local and state sales tax as well. The federal tax rate on cigarettes is $1.01 per pack of 20 cigarettes and has remained steady since 2009. There have, however, been recent calls to increase the federal tax on tobacco products.
Each state also imposes a state tax on cigarettes, with an average of $1.91 per pack. Cigarette taxes range from $0.17 per pack in Missouri to $4.35 per pack in New York. Roughly half of states have increased the tax rate rate on cigarettes since 2012, with the greatest increases since 2018 occurring in Oregon, Maryland, and Colorado.
Cigarettes may also be taxed locally, at the city and county levels. According to Tobacco Free Kids, Chicago, Illinois has the highest combined state-local tax rate at $7.16, with Evanston, Illinois coming in second at $6.48 per pack.
Several states have also implemented minimum pricing laws. In Colorado, for example, the current minimum price per pack of cigarettes is $7, with that floor set to raise to $7.50 by 2024.
Proponents of tax increases claim that higher taxes lead to a decrease in smoking rates and increased revenues. According to The American Lung Cancer Association, for every 10 percent increase in the price of cigarettes, consumption drops by four percent among adults and seven percent among youth.
Additionally, states rely on the revenues from cigarettes to boost their general funds. According to Statista.com, total revenues from tobacco taxes in 2020 came to 12.35 billion dollars. At the federal level, this money goes to supporting health initiatives like The Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP). At the state level, these funds are often used to support health initiatives, education, and smoking cessation programs.
Prevalence of Smoking
According to the CDC, approximately 14% of U.S. adults smoke regularly, with rates among males slightly higher than among females. Smoking levels tend to be higher in regions where cigarettes are cheaper.
While smoking levels have been declining for the past several decades, the Federal Trade Commission reported that cigarette sales were slightly up in 2020. However, the downward trend is expected to continue.
Cigarettes & Health
Smoking is a health risk. According to the CDC, smoking harms nearly every organ of the body and is a leading cause of premature death in the United States, contributing to over 480,000 deaths a year.
Smoking cigarettes causes cancer, heart disease, lung disease, diabetes, stroke, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Smokers are also at increased risk for tuberculosis, immune system problems, certain eye diseases, and tooth loss.
Illness related to smoking costs the country over $300 billion each year. Nationally, these healthcare costs average out to $17.26 per pack.