Monday, June 13, 2011

Holy Smokes!

365-2 Newport
Sticker shock

When I was a kid, I recall my mother buying a carton of More menthol cigarettes for $19. Curious, I walked into the store where this poster was displayed to find out just how much a pack of these Newport cigarettes cost -- $5.00.

According to a list of local cigarette tax rates across the US, published by in 2010, I was surprised to discover that Cuyahoga County (Cleveland) ranked at the bottom of the list of 36, with taxes totaling $1.595 ($0.345 county tax + $1.25 state tax) per pack.

Chicago was second on the list charging $3.66 per pack in taxes. Everyone got a piece of the action -- city ($0.68), county ($2.00), and state ($0.98). New York City topped the list with a tax breakdown of $1.50 city tax plus $4.35 state tax; a total of $5.85 in taxes per pack. This doesn't include the cost of the item or sales tax.

I don't know how people can afford to smoke!

I know I shouldn't judge. We probably look pretty indulgent driving several hours a week shopping for groceries, and eating quinoa and drinking soy milk daily. After all, these millions in tax dollars are paying for art and cultural programs (almost $15,000,000 in 2010-2011), building smoke-free stadiums, and so on.

- Cassaendra

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