Poor smokers spending 25% of income on cigarettes: study

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A new study shows low-income smokers are spending nearly a quarter of their income on cigarettes.
A new study shows low-income smokers are spending nearly a quarter of their income on cigarettes.

A new study shows a quarter of smokers’ income is going up in smoke.

Low-income smokers in New York are puffing away nearly 25 percent of their cash on cigarettes, according to a recently releases study by RTI International.

New York has the highest state cigarette taxes in the nation at $4.35 — only slightly lower than a pack in some states. New York City smokers are hit with an additional $1.50 tax per pack.

Though smoking has fallen 20 percent overall, the study found people in households with less than $25,000 in income had “no statistically significant decline in smoking.”

“Excise taxes are effective in changing smokers’ behavior,” said Matthew Farrelly, Ph.D., the study’s lead author. “But not all smokers are able to quit, and low-income smokers are disproportionately burdened by these taxes.”

Smokers in the highest income group dish out just 2 percent of their income on cigarettes.

Farrelly suggested programs should be funded with the tax money to help poor smokers put out their cigarettes for good.

The study was by the New York State Health Department.