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New Yorkers May See A New Tax On Tobacco

New York may soon top the nation as the state with the highest cigarette taxes, if a preliminary deal between Governor David A. Paterson and lawmakers is approved.

The new tax would boost the price of cigarettes by $1.60 across the state, raising the tax on a pack of cigarettes in New York City to $5.85 and bringing the total cost of a pack above $10 in most stores. New York's state tax on cigarettes is currently $2.75 a pack, but the tax would also apply to cigars and other tobacco products.

Not immune to the new bill are the cigarettes that are sold off Indian reservations in the state, a point of heated contention in past years.

The proposed tax would be a boon for New York, reportedly generating some $440 million in revenue by the end of 2010 and helping to close a gaping budget that has reportedly surpassed $9 billion.

The bill may face staunch opposition in Albany, however, as Republicans have said they will oppose any solution any emergency solution to the budget woes that includes raising taxes.

Proponents of the bill are convinced it would help smokers quit by adding a financial incentive while generating money for the state. The bill's critics hold that the tax would simply penalize New York retailers while smokers order cigarettes online or travel out of state to stock up.

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