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A tax revenue source that’s just smokin’

September 23, 2012

State and local cigarette taxes brought in $17.1 billion in 2011. The federal government got another $15.5 billion.

Slow recovery or not, here’s one type of tax many jurisdictions have no fear of raising. State and local cigarette taxes brought in $17.1 billion in 2011, and 19 states plus the District of Columbia have increased cigarette taxes in the past three years. State surcharges on a pack of cigarettes vary widely, from 17 cents in Missouri to $4.35 in New York. But since 2000, only Missouri, North Dakota and California have not increased their cigarette taxes. In 2009 the federal per-pack tax soared too, from 39 cents to $1.01, raising $15.5 billion in 2011. But the federal government also spends $96 billion each year addressing health problems caused by smoking.

Check the per-pack cigarette tax rate in your state by clicking on today’s infographic, above, to see it in its full glory. Then join the discussion below. How do you feel about niche taxes like this that fall exclusively on a certain class of people, whether they’re tobacco users, car renters, or state park visitors?