New York Could Ban Menthol Cigarettes and Raise Per-Pack Taxes
New York State Governor Kathy Hochul is taking aim at the tobacco industry, seeking to ban menthol cigarettes and significantly raise cigarette taxes per pack.
According to a report by Nick Reisman of Spectrum New 1, Governor Hochul's proposal would ban the sale of menthol cigarettes, considered one of the most popular cigarette products, and raise the per-pack tax on cigarettes from $1 to $5.35.
For regular smokers, that's a great deal more of their money going to cigarettes. For reference, someone who smokes one pack a day right now pays $7 in taxes per week. But with the raise in the tax on cigarette products, he or she would pay $37.45 in taxes alone for a week of smoking.
Expectedly, Governor Hochul's proposal is facing intense scrutiny. Even members of the clergy in Buffalo, Albany and Harlem signed onto a letter to Governor Hochul, stating "It is unjust to expect communities of color to choose between greater public health protections and basic civil rights. We do not accept the premise that we must choose between the two, that these interests are mutually exclusive, or that this debate is zero-sum. A working group consisting of social justice advocates and law enforcement leaders along with other organizations, is the best solution available to bridge the current divide."
The debate over regulation and taxation of tobacco products is a fierce one. On one hand, raising taxes and banning menthol cigarettes should decrease the number of smokers in New York. On the other hand, people believe they have the right to utilize tobacco products if they so choose despite the health risks, and government shouldn't be limiting their ability to do that. Governor Hochul's proposal to ban menthol cigarettes and raise taxes on cigarette products should continue causing a stir in New York for the foreseeable future.