Interventions to Increase the Unit Price for Tobacco Products
The Guide to Community Preventive
Services reports that increasing
unit price of tobacco products increases the number of people who
stop using tobacco, reduces the amount of tobacco used, and reduces the use of tobacco among adolescents and
young adults. Evidence also suggests that this intervention may reduce tobacco-related disparities by income,
race, and ethnic group. Healthy
People 2030 Tobacco Use objectives include a combined federal and state excise tax increase of at least
$2.60 for cigarettes.
Governments can increase the cost of tobacco products by means of taxation, which can be earmarked for specific
public use spending. In 2015, the average
excise tax per pack of cigarettes across all states was $1.60. In addition to state tax laws, local tax
laws at the city level can also add a significant cost per pack of cigarettes. However, some states prohibit
local cigarette taxes or may limit the maximum tax rates.
Examples of Programs that Increase Taxation
The Raise it for Health-ND
Coalition, which included over 40 different businesses and healthcare organizations,
aimed to raise the state's tobacco tax during the 2015 North Dakota legislative session. North Dakota's
tobacco tax is currently one of the lowest in the nation at $0.44 per pack. The coalition, led by
Tobacco Free North Dakota and the state's American
Lung Association, launched a statewide education campaign in 2014. The coalition found that a large
percentage of residents in the state were unaware of how low the tobacco tax was and supported an increase
in the state's tobacco tax.
In 2012, the Bethel
City Council in rural Alaska passed a new tobacco excise tax that increased the price
of cigarettes by $2.21 per pack. The council also increased the tax of all other tobacco products, such
as smokeless tobacco, by 45%. Between April 2013, when the tax went into effect, and July 2013, the
tax provided over $100,000 in revenue for the city.
Considerations for Implementation
According to The
Community Guide, it is important to expand access to cessation services following adoption of increased
taxation policies. Revenue from taxes can be used to support tobacco control and prevention programs and
services. Another important consideration is if state preemption laws will impact local tobacco tax policies.
Despite this barrier, many community members show support for large increases
in tobacco tax. Public health coalitions may be useful in supporting in the unit price for tobacco products.
Other political and economic considerations are described in The Community Guide Preventive Services Task
and rationale statement on this topic.
Resources to Learn More
Higher Tobacco Taxes Can
Improve Health and Raise Revenue
This research shows that when tobacco taxes are raised, fewer people are likely to smoke. This effect
is particularly pronounced among young and low-income people.
Author(s): Marr, C. & Huang, C.
Organization(s): Center on Budget and Policy Priorities
Health Law Center
Provides resources for various tobacco control issues, including taxation and product
pricing, preemption, and sales restrictions.
State Cigarette Excise Tax
Rates & Rankings
This fact sheet includes a table listing all state cigarette tax rates as of October 1, 2015.
Author(s): Boonn, A.
Organization(s): Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids
Tobacco Tax Revenue by
A fact sheet produced by the Tax Policy Center that shows a chart of “State and Local Tobacco Tax
Revenue, Selected Years 1977-2017.” The chart provides tax revenue amounts for the United States,
eight regions of the country, and each state.
Organization(s): The Urban Institute-Brookings Institution Tax Policy Center