State to increase tax on cigarettes

Smoking will become an even more expensive habit for Connecticut residents next month.

The state budget — which became law this past weekend — has increased the tax on cigarettes from $2 to $3 per pack. The measure is part of an effort to reduce the state’s roughly $8 billion deficit over the next two years. But while some fear the increase will have a disproportionate effect on Connecticut’s poor, some Yalies find the idea of the tax almost comical.

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“I think that the Connecticut government is kidding itself if it thinks a $1 tax hike will curb smoking in any way,” Alexander Shaheen ’13 said.

In recent years, the state has raised the tax several times. In 2002, it went to $1.11 from 49 cents; in 2003, to $1.51 from $1.11. The most recent increase, to $2 from $1.51, was passed July of 2007.

The current tax, legislators say, will help balance the state’s budget with additional expected revenue. According to the Connecticut Office of Fiscal Analysis, the new tax will result in a revenue gain of $99.3 million in fiscal year 2010 and $117.6 million in fiscal year 2011. The strategy also includes a one-off “floor tax” on all unsold inventories of tobacco products come Sept. 30, which the Office of Fiscal Analysis estimates to bring in an additional $8.8 million in revenue.

But some local business owners said they fear the tax might stunt their sales numbers. Bill Raffaele, tobacco specialist at the Owl Shop in New Haven, said he was “almost certain” that cigarette sales would fall after the tax goes into effect.

“It’s horrible,” he said. “Absolutely horrible. They’re singling out one product.”

Opponents argue that the tax will be especially burdensome to the poor, who make up a large number of Connecticut smokers. The state has yet to announce whether the revenue generated from the new tax will be used to fund anti-smoking campaigns or health-related programs.

For many Yale students, however, the $1 increase will be a negligible change. Of the four students interviewed, who all said they smoked, only one said the tax would cause a change in habit.

“I’m accustomed to paying $10 for a pack of cigarettes,” said Benjamin Singleton ’13, a student from New York City. “Still, this new effort from the government to curb smoking will probably cause me to at least try to cut down.”

None of the students interviewed concluded that the new tax will cause a significant financial burden.

The new cigarette tax is slated to go into effect Oct. 1.

Natalie Papillion contributed reporting.

Comments

  • Henry de pena

    this increase will reduce sales state wide and for me is not a good idea. im a store owner in Hartford ct and i dont welcome this measure.

  • JIM

    THIS IS JUST RELL’S WAY OF TARGETING A CERTAIN CLASS OF PEOPLE.UNFORTUNATLY WE AS SMOKERS WE HAVE NO RECOURSE.I BELIEVE THAT IT UNFAIR TO SMOKERS TO BE RESPONSIBLE FOR MAKING UP THE STATES INABILITY TO PROPERLY MANAGE ITS BUDGET IN A FAIR MANNER.HOW COME SHE DOES NOT TAX ALCOHOL AS HIGH AS CIGARETTES AND TOBACCO PRODUCTS.I AM A NOT DRINKER I THINKS TRIPLING THE TAX ON BOOZE MIGHT HELP WITH DRINKING AND DRIVING.IF YOUR GONNA PUNISH ONE GROUP OF PEOPLE MAYBE THEY SHOULD PULL THEIR HEADS OUT OF THE SAND OR THEIR A#$ES AND PUNISH ALL,INCLUDING BARS AND LIQUOR STORES BY RAISING THE TAXES ON ALCOHOL PRODUCTS AT THE SAME TIME SHE RAISES TOBACCO PRODUCTS.THIS IS NOT A FAIR PRACTICE BY RELL OR MAYBE SHE’S A BOOZER AND DOES NOT WANT TO TAX IT ANY HIGHER.EITHER WAY IT REALLY NOT A FAIR PRACTICE… BUT WHOM AM I. AS WE ALL KNOW POLITICIANS ARE ALL CORRUPT ANYWAY!!!!

  • @JIM

    I think your caps lock key might be broken

  • Pierson90

    A ‘feel-good’ tax that disproportionately targets the poor, the disadvantaged, minorities, and the homeless. How very progressive!

  • Yale grad

    The student quoted in this article may not believe it, but the reality is, increasing cigarette taxes does have a statistically significant negative effect on smoking.

    I certainly think Rell should accept the push for the millionaire’s tax and other progressive tax changes. Progressivism in taxation is very important.

    But raising cigarette taxes will actually save lives, as hard as that is for some people to believe.

  • Fesgebrabub

    Just wanted to say hello all. This is my first post.

    I expect to learn a lot here.

  • je13

    There are few things I hate more than being stuck behind someone smoking a cigarette. I welcome any measure that reduces smoking in public places.