Some people may favor high taxes on cigarettes, but one policy expert says such taxes in New York are distorting the market.
In late December, the New York Post and other news outlets reported that the Empire State's cigarette tax revenue has fallen substantially in recent years, due in part to smokers buying cigarettes in nearby states with lower taxes and prices.
Jeff Stier, a New York resident and senior fellow for the National Center for Public Policy Research, says he's seen a large number of tobacco shops in just one area along the border of Pennsylvania, New York, and New Jersey.
"It was just a bizarre sight to see on every corner, like 20 tobacco shops, within a square mile. It was just the weirdest thing, but that's how taxes distort markets," he shares.
"There is no other purpose of having so many tobacco shops in just one rural part of Pennsylvania," Stier continues. "But when you have weird taxes like the New York cigarette tax that is just so ridiculously high, it will cause people to travel to Pennsylvania – or, and we're seeing this more and more often, [it causes them to] buy illicit cigarettes, stolen cigarettes that are used to support terrorism [and] crime."
Meanwhile, Stier says a lot of money from cigarette taxes over the years has gone toward non-health related programs, and not just in New York.