Does the Cost of Cigarettes
Prevent People from Smoking?

Nadezda Chikurova
CUNY Graduate Center
DATA 78000 Dr. Sun
Spring 2021

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Smoking cigarettes has been “out of trend” for a while. In the late 1990s and early 2000s smoking in most workplaces and public places was prohibited in many countries. People started being more aware of their eating habits, physical activities, and overall health. In the USA, current smoking has declined from 20.9% (nearly 21 of every 100 adults) in 2005 to 14.0% (14 of every 100 adults) in 2019, and the proportion of smokers who have quit has increased (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention).

However, cigarette smoking is not just a simple bad habit but a strong addiction whether it is an addiction to nicotine or a psycho emotional addiction. Most of the time, it is both. Cigarette smoking remains the leading cause of preventable disease, disability, and death in the United States, accounting for more than 480,000 deaths every year, or about 1 in 5 deaths.
In this project I explore the average cost of cigarettes per pack, federal and state tax on cigarettes, and the relation between these factors and adult smoking consumption from 1970 to 2019 in the United Stated.

Average Cost of Cigarettes in U.S. by State from 1970 to 2019

*Prices do not include sales tax
Hover over to see more information

On July 1, 2010, New York's cigarette excise tax was increased by an additional $1.60 per pack and new legislation was enacted to curb cigarette excise tax avoidance. These actions had the potential to appreciably reduce cigarette use and increase tax revenues to the state.

The Top 10 States with the Highest Average Cost per pack in 2019

Average Cost of Cigarettes per Pack in 2010 and 2019

*Prices do not include sales tax

Federal and State Tax as a Percentage of Retail Prices in 2019

Top States With The Highest Federal And State Tax, $

Top States with the Highest Federal and State Tax Percentage of the Retail Price

Federal and State Tax per Pack of Cigarettes in 2019

Adult Cigarette Smoking in 2019 by U.S. Census Region

Cigarette smoking in 2019 was highest in the Midwest and lowest in the West.

Cigarette Smoking among Adults in the United States in 2019. (cdc.dov)

Cigarette Smoking among Adults in 2019 by Education

Current cigarette smoking was highest among people with a general education development (GED) certificate and lowest among those with a graduate degree.

Cigarette Smoking among Adults in the United States by Annual Household Income

Cigarette smoking in 2019 was higher among people with a low annual household income than those with higher annual household incomes.

Cigarette Consumption (Pack Sales per Capita) and Average Cost of Cigarettes per Pack

Although there are many other factors involved, the trends in cigarette prices and overall U.S. cigarette consumption from 1970 to 2019 show that there is a strong correlation between increasing prices and decreasing consumption.

Decreasing cigarette consumption among adults strongly correlates with increasing average cost of cigarettes. However, interestingly, the higher income people have the less they smoke. This means that smoking consumption depends not only from the cost of the cigarettes, but many other factors, which might include annual household income, level of education, marital status, and whether person has experienced anxiety.

Data Sources: (The Tax Burden on Tobacco, 1970-2019) (Current Cigarette Smoking Among Adults
in the United States)