The Florida state tax on cigarettes jumped to $1.34 a pack Wednesday, marking a 294% increase in the state excise tax, the Miami Herald reported.
The increase follows a 159% increase in the federal cigarette tax, from about 39 cents to $1.01 a pack, on April 1. In addition, some Big Tobacco companies upped prices by more than 40 cents a pack earlier this year.
Now, with the latest hike, smokers are watching their favorite brand skyrocket in price to $5 to $6 or more a pack.
And dodging the tax has become more difficult as well. Gone are the days when smokers could get tax-free cigarettes from Indian reservations. Under the new law, non-tribe members buying cigarettes on an Indian reservation have to pay the full tax.
While the tax hike is expected to encourage some smokers to quit, the state expects the higher tax also will generate about $900 million a year to help treat sick smokers. Gov. Charlie Crist signed the bill in May, reversing a pledge not to raise taxes. Crist said at the time he viewed the increase ”more as a health issue than . . . a tax issue.”
Cigarette consumption drops 6% to 7% among minors for every 10% increase in the price of a pack, Eric Lindblom, policy research director for the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids told the Miami Herald. Consumption among adults is 3% to 5%, he added.
With the new tax in place Florida now has the 22nd-highest tax in the nation-above the national average of $1.29 a pack, the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids told the Miami Herald. Before the increase, Florida had the fifth lowest tax. ”That’s a big step Florida is taking,” Lindblom said.