Instead of that staggering $1 tax on cigarettes Paterson proposed earlier in the year, the state may be seeing a whopping $1.60 tax per pack of smokes. The proposal is laced into an emergency budget bill to be voted for on Monday, and Paterson says it would bring in an extra $290 million to close the budget gap and keep Albany from shutting down.
Total taxes on a pack would then come to about $5.85, making New York the first state to break $5. Smokers don't seem to happy about the idea. Deborah Reed told the Post, "I'd like for him to take that tax and stick it! They keep going after the smokers and that's wrong." Taxes on other tobacco products like cigars and chewing tobacco would also be increased from 46% of the wholesale price to 75%. Budget Director Robert Megna told the Daily News, "Increasing the price hopefully gets people to stop using the products. An added benefit to that is we raise revenue."
The bill will most likely pass on Monday, as the consequence would be a complete government shutdown. Though non-smokers and health officials generally support taxes on cigarettes, tobacco retailers believe it drives consumers to look elsewhere for their smokes. Thomas Briant, executive director of the National Association of Tobacco Outlets, told the Times, “That large of an increase will further devastate legitimate retail sales of cigarettes and only serve to create more widespread black market cigarette sales and crime in New York." One tobacconist simply told ABC News, "He's going to put us out of business." The hike on cigarettes would go into effect July 1st, and the hike on other products would happen on August 1st.