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There’s a New Tobacco Tax for California

And it should help those with mild nicotine addictions.

By Francie Diep


(Photo: Wikimedia Commons)

Californians have voted for a new tax on tobacco products, including e-cigarettes and cigarette packs, which will now cost $2 more. Studies suggest a tax of California’s size will entice many intermittent smokers to quit, but may not be enough to deter those with more entrenched addictions.

In general, studies of tobacco taxes in America have found that, for every 10 percent that the price of a pack of cigarettes goes up, smoking rates drop about 4 percent. A $1 to $2 tax tends to work well for those with a mild addiction, University of California–San Francisco economist Justin Whitetold NPR. But taxes usually need to hit the wallet harder, on the order of $5 to $10, before folks with strong nicotine addictions will reconsider smoking. An estimated 12 percent of Californian adults smoke, but it’s not immediately clear how many of them have milder versus more intense habits.

Colorado, North Dakota, and Missouri also considered raising their tobacco taxes this election cycle, but voters nixed the measures in all of those states.