NY’s cigarette tax would be highest in nation under governor’s plan

Published: Feb. 6, 2023 at 5:36 PM EST
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WATERTOWN, New York (WWNY) - New York state’s proposed budget would have it leading the nation when it comes to a cigarette tax.

“It’s just another tax for a small business that has to pay and try and keep up,” said Christy Houghtaling, general manager, Bottlecaps Beverage Center.

Governor Hochul is hoping to create a “tobacco-free generation” by increasing the tax on a pack of cigarettes from $4.35 to $5.35.

“There are numerous studies throughout the last 20 or 30 years that show that every time the price of cigarettes is raised there is a reduction in consumption,” said Faith Lustik, director of preventive services, Jefferson County Public Health Services.

The new price would have New York charging the highest cigarette tax in the country.

And Hochul isn’t stopping there. With the popularity of flavored tobacco products on the rise, Hochul wants to ban their sale.

The state Department of Health reports nearly 40% of 12th-grade students in the state have used e-cigarettes. Though already banned, some components can still be found.

“When you have bubble gum flavored vape, you know that’s targeting children. So it’s really important that we look at that and try to help kids not start vaping in the first place,” said Lustik.

While Bottlecap Beverage Center in Watertown strictly sells cigars, Houghtaling tells us they have already felt the effects of tax hikes from Albany.

“We have a 75% tax from New York state that we have on our cigar tax. It affects, obviously, the buyer the most. Once again it’s just a trickle-down effect where it just affects the customer,” she said.

The New York Association of Convenience Stores is also opposed to the tax increase and proposed ban.

The group tells 7 News that flavored tobacco products generate over a billion dollars each year in revenue for New York.