Despite its best efforts to deter New Yorkers from smoking, the city still has plenty of smokers — many of which appear to be sidestepping New York’s high cigarette tax, a new report found.
The state’s Tax Foundation found that New York “is the highest net importer of smuggled cigarettes, totaling 56.8 percent of total cigarette consumption in the state,” the New York Post reported.
The study found that cigarette smuggling has jumped 59 percent since 2006, as did the tax rate, which saw a whopping 190 percent increase during that same time frame.
In 2015, the most recent year reported, the Tax Foundation found that untaxed cigarette sales have cost the Empire State $1.63 billion.
Each pack of cigarettes bought in New York City carries a $4.35 tax from the state and an extra $1.50 from the city, making them “the highest cigarette taxes in the nation,” Scott Drenkard, the agency’s director of state projects, told the Post.
Smuggling by the black market in 2015 cost the city about $740 million and the state an additional $895 million, according to the report.
“Growing cigarette tax differentials have made cigarette smuggling both a national problem and in some cases a lucrative criminal enterprise,” the study said.
In August, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced seven bills that aimed to drop the number of cigarette smokers in the city by 160,000 by 2020.
Among the legislation is a price-per-pack increase to $13 from $10.50, limiting retailers with tobacco licenses while also cutting the current number of sellers in half and banning pharmacies from selling tobacco products.
According to a statement from the mayor back in August, smoking rates in the city have dropped to 14.3 percent in 2015 from 21.5 percent in 2002, the year before statewide smoking bans went into effect.