State-by-State: Cigarette Taxes

Every state imposes a tax on cigarettes, but those taxes vary considerably. States with the lowest taxes on cigarettes include Missouri (17 cents per pack), Virginia (30 cents per pack) and Louisiana (36 cents per pack), although both Missouri and Virginia are among the few states that allow counties and cities to impose an additional tax on cigarettes (in Missouri, from 4 to 7 cents and in Virginia , 2 to 15 cents). Fourteen states plus the District of Columbia impose a $2.00 or greater tax on a pack of cigarettes, with the biggest taxes in New York ($4.35 per pack plus $1.50 per pack in New York City), Rhode Island ($3.50 per pack) and Connecticut ($3.40 per pack). The U.S. median tax is $1.36 per pack.

  Download the chart: "State Excise Tax Rates on Cigarettes 2013"

According to the Federation of Tax Administrators, only three states - California, Missouri, and North Dakota - have not raised cigarette taxes at least once since 2000. Only twice since 2000 has any state lowered their taxes - in July of 2002 in New Hampshire (decrease of 10 cents per pack) and in Oregon, also in July of 2002 and also a decrease of 10 cents per pack. Cigarette taxes have been adjusted, across all states, 124 times since 2000.

From 2000 to 2012, Hawaii raised cigarette taxes most frequently - nine times - while Connecticut, New Jersey, Rhode Island and Vermont each raised taxes five times. Most states - 33 - raised taxes one or two times over this period. The largest single tax increase since 2000 happened in New York in 2010 and increased taxes in that state by $1.60 per pack while the smallest increase was 3 cents per pack, which was put into place in 2012 in Rhode Island. The median tax increase over this time was 44 cents per pack.

The highest number of cigarette tax changes over the last twelve years occurred in 2002 and 2003, when 39 adjustments to cigarette taxes took effect. However the largest average adjustments occurred in 2008 and 2010 - in 2008 the average tax adjustment was 89 cents per pack while in 2010, it was 88 cents per pack.

Source: Author analysis of data from the Federation of Tax Administrators

Source: Author analysis of data from the Federation of Tax Administrators

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