Poor New Yorkers Spend 25% Of Income On Cigarettes

Tyler Durden's picture

It sucks to be poor. It sucks to smoke (broadly speaking). But most of all, it sucks to be a poor smoker in New York. This is the finding from a study conducted by RTI's Public Health Policy Research Program which shows that low-income smokers in New York spend 25 percent of their income on cigarettes, a finding that led a smokers' rights advocate to say it proves high taxes are regressive and ineffective. Bloomberg reports: "In New York, with the nation's highest cigarette taxes, a pack of cigarettes can cost $12, though many smokers have turned to cheaper cigarettes bought online and by using roll-your-own devices. Wealthier smokers — those earning $60,000 or more — spend 2 percent on cigarettes, according to the study." The imminent solution: hike taxes even more of course. After all it is not like broke New York City needs the cash broke smokers will stop using EBT cards and other forms of cheap credit to feed addictions. And while at it, hike school tuitions a little more: in a society in which the only peddled hope of regaining the American dream is graduation with an advanced pottery degree, and in which (non-dischargeable) student debt costs nothing, what is the downside?

Amusingly, it seems America has something resembling a smoker's union:

for smokers, the study proves cigarette taxes are punitive and "undeniably regressive," said Audrey Silk of CLASH, a national smokers' rights organization.


"It busts their theory that high taxes equal submission to their coercive measure at the same time," she said. She criticized government "anti-smokers" who jack up taxes, but she also found with anti-smoking groups like the Cancer Society.


"Ulterior motives abound ... to generate bad news as reason to tighten the screws and fish for more funding to do it with," she said. "They enrich themselves at the expense of those they helped stigmatize."

The government however refuses to take the bait:

Peter Constantakes of the state Health Department argues that tax increases and other programs are helping people kick the habit.


"Cigarette taxes are an evidence-based intervention that has proven successful in encouraging smokers to quit," he said. "New York is promoting a number of anti-smoking initiatives, including targeted media campaigns, that are designed to reduce the smoking rate among lower-income groups and prevent young people from becoming smokers."

Apparently not, especially when handouts in various forms such as EBT cards, foodstamps and the like, do not serve as a sufficient incentive to put the cigarette down, and merely transfer money from easy sources of credit to cash strapped entities who can tax the living daylights out of credit incurring intermediaries.

But if monetary considerations do not stop smokers from lighting up, the government can just say it tried its best and begin regulating daily smoking intake in addition to everything else. Naturally that would crush vice tax revenues by the same broke striken-through entities observed above. And in a world in which there is virtually no organic cash flow left, this simply will not stand.

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blunderdog's picture

You can buy single cigs from friendly enterpreneurs just about anywhere.

It's a small business opportunity for the underclass!

Waterfallsparkles's picture

Bloomberg will not outlaw cigarettes because now they put Fire Safe Paper on them.  Anyone still smoking American Cigarettes has no choice but to smoke Cigarettes with Fire Retardant in the paper.  It is like smoking their Couch.  Designed to kill them sooner than later.

boiltherich's picture

Nonsense. The self extinguishing cigarettes have rings of thicker paper in bands around the cigarette every few millimeters, not chemical fire retardants. But, you are right about them tasting like your couch, if that couch was used in a frat house for 10 years before you got it, then in a puppy mill for a couple more.

Oregon mandated these self extinguishing smokes a few years back and there was a total firestorm from smokers about it. The goddamned things flaked burning ash and burned unevenly, I think more people died in car wrecks trying to put the fires out in the crotch of their pants when the cherry fell out which they often did, than died in house fires caused by cigarettes these would supposedly stop. You had to hotbox the damned things to keep them going.  At any rate they quietly pulled them from the market and went back to regular smokes.

The problem for the smug self serving non smokers in the country is this, you may feel superior, fuck it you may actually BE superior, but if the government and disapproving citizens can do this to us just imagine what they can and thus eventually WILL do to you, and when that day comes do not ask a smoker to stand beside you to fight for YOUR rights because I will just smile and say sure, I will give you just as much help as you gave me when it was my freedom they came for.

Waterfallsparkles's picture

As far as I know all States now require Fire Safe Cigarettes.  They include Ethylene vinal acetate copolymer emulsion based adhesive (carpet glue).  They also now include Naphtalene (same ingredients in Moth Balls). They are now more dangerous than ever and compound problems from smoking.


lemonobrien's picture

retards who smoke deserve to die, and be poor.

CrockettAlmanac.com's picture

Still living and breathing (smoke). Ha ha!

LULZBank's picture


Smoking Chills... Stress Kills Bitchezz!!!

john39's picture

the tobacco is not that bad really... its the 5000+ additives, the radiation (yeah, its there), and various other toxins that actually harm you...

CrockettAlmanac.com's picture

I supplement store bought tobacco with home grown. Looking to increase yield next season.

Skateboarder's picture

Roll your own, brotha. I would like to plant a tobacco plant soon though. Until then, those lovely pouches of American Spirits will do. No additives, no nasty chemicals in the leaf or in the papers. The papers is where they get ya, like ZigZag and all of 'em. Gotta look for some nice flax or rice papers. Hemp is alright.

CrockettAlmanac.com's picture

I've been rolling my own since '97. When Obama raised tobacco taxes in '09 I bought 45 cans before the price doubled from 10.00 to 20.00 Two cans left, a few plants in the ground and when that's gone I'll have to step up and give Barry his due.

RafterManFMJ's picture

Wait a year to so and roll em in $20 bills...

LeisureSmith's picture

Grow your own Bitchez, it's easy...Curing is not, but doable.

Papasmurf's picture

You call that living?  Cough, cough.

CrockettAlmanac.com's picture

A little beer will sooth the throat.

boiltherich's picture

Grandfather smoked 3-4 packs a day from age 10 to age 76 when the doctor made him quit, and when he quit he was totally miserable.  He lived 8 more years, but did not enjoy a day of them.  Of course even though he was 84 they listed the cause of death as smoking related COPD.  Hmmmmmm, I wonder if his advanced AGE could have had a contributing effect?  If you ever smoked in your life they will claim that smoking is what killed you.  If you ever saw someone else smoke they will claim second hand smoke was at least a contributing factor.  And they are already starting to discuss the evils of third hand smoke.  WTF? 

What part of freedom do you all not understand?  Is the concept a mystery to you? 

Dr. Engali's picture

My wife is a smoker who got started when she was 15. She has tried on several occassions to quit, but has not been successful at it. She is however a fantastic mother of three, her kids and  I would hate to see anything bad happen to her. I for one don't see her as retarded, I see her addicted to an insidious product that is designed to hook people for life...however shortened that may be.

RobD's picture

My mother also started young, 14 I think. She also tried to quit multiple times and failed. She was mostly healthy until kidney cancer got her at 61. Never got to see her granddaughter and only got to hold her grandson a few times. Not sure it was the cigs that caused the cancer but it's a good bet that her immune system would have been better without them.

BKbroiler's picture

1 word folks, CHANTIX.  That shit works.   It wil give you screaming dead baby nightmares, but I smoked a pack a day for 15 years and quit cold turkey using only 1 perscription of the stuff..

Rainman's picture

Hope that quit day wasn't yesterday. My neighbor no longer smokes, but he chews nicorette all day like Obama. Doin it for years ! I told him it's a whole lot cheaper to buy some dip.

Itch's picture

Even nicotine patches give you nightmares...i had a fight to the death with a puma in my lounge, i eventually got it into a bin liner while still stabbing the shit out of it, but the more I stabbed it the more it turned into a little white kitten. Then I started to cry inconsolably with guilt for the dead kitten. Psychologically, you have to ask yourself is it worth it.

Rainman's picture

LOL...that's some funny shit.... I think

boiltherich's picture

That shit works for SOME people.  The drug company, Pfizer, says that 44% of people who use Chantix remained smoke free after 6 months.  Independent  studies show it is closer to 14%, and I tried it, along with hypnosis, Zyban, Chinese herbal medicine and accupuncture, nicotine patches, gums, and several time cold turkey. 

I had NO luck with any of them, I was totally miserable, and while I like to live and wish I never started smoking, a permanent state of craving withdrawal is not the life for me.  So I lose a few years, but the 20 or so I have left will have to do.

By the way, I know several people that did take Chantix and quit, quit buying their own smokes that is.  They are always bumming cigarettes and saying shit like "oh no, Chantix really worked, I now can take them or leave them, I like to smoke one occassionally, can you spare one?"  The fact is that Chantix works while you are on it for some people, but you are not supposed to take it more than six weeks.  And it is itself a dangerous drug.  "...the FDA has now received a total of 272 reports of completed suicides by Chantix users."  Probably needed a smoke so bad they slashed their own wrists.

Total adverse event reports now exceed 35,000, of which roughly 10,000 were classified as serious, disabling or fatal, with 1,055 serious events being reported during the 3rd quarter of 2010.

What's concerning is that according to the June, 2000 U.S. Guideline for Treating Tobacco Use and Dependence, Pfizer knew when it designed the original Chantix studies that counseling and support program contacts are highly effective at helping prevent relapse to smoking.

According to the Guideline, quitting programs involving 4 to 8 sessions generate an average 24 week quit smoking rate of 20.9 percent. What's not yet known is whether the Hughes study's dismal 14% rate suggests that Chantix is worthless as a quitting aid.

What Pfizer marketing continues to fail to adequately advise smokers is that unless Chantix use is accompanied by effective and ongoing counseling or support that the user's odds of success are not good. In fact, they're horrible. http://whyquit.com/pr/061411.html


Intoxicologist's picture

I'm with you.  I've tried it all, and I just plain like to smoke.  If I kack early, I figure, I'll avoid life in a nursing home in my "golden" years. 

If I wind up with a terminal illness, my life is going to end somewhere out in the back 40, and skip the medical establishment entirely. 

Intoxicologist's picture

Chantix is some scary stuff, although I know people who've quit after using it.  I tried it, and not only did I get nightmares, but a creeping feeling of unease during my waking hours - like my whole thought processes were being altered.  I shitcanned the stuff after less than a week. The heebie jeebies were too disturbing.

Fast forward a few months, and an acquaintence of mine's mom committed suicide after being on Chantix for about a month.  She made three attempts, and the third time was the charm.  They found her in a lake with half her face eaten off by turtles.

boiltherich's picture

I took it for six weeks and after about a week I noticed that I did not smoke as much or crave them as much, like I had to remind myself it was time to go have a smoke.  But, as you say, it was a mind altering drug.  So was Zyban for that matter, that stuff messed me up worse than Chantix.  Like the junction between skull and brain was ice, or the top of my head was gone. 

Well, I took the whole six week course of the drug and called the VA for a refill, they sent it.  And about a month into that, which by then clearly it was not working, I had my annual physical.  I told my doctor I only had about two weeks left on my Chantix refill before I ran out and he was just aghast.  You are not supposed to have even one refill and I was working up to my third set of pills.  He told me not to stop taking them all at once whatever I do, cut down to half over the next few days then reduce by splitting pills over a couple more days.  I did not ask what would happen if I just stopped, the look in his eye sort of gave me religion about following his orders. 

How Pfizer got this stuff past the FDA god only knows.

tip e. canoe's picture

had a similar feeling with Zyban, like the inside of my head was wrapped in cellophane.

that was 15 yrs ago and it was then i realized the Pharms were up to no good with the antidepressants.

Mine Is Bigger's picture

I would highly recommend Allen Carr's 'The Easy Way to Stop Smoking."

The book really works.  I was a really heavy smoker, but able to quit without struggle after reading it.

I also know at least half a dozen people who successfully quit after reading the book.

Henry Hub's picture

Mark Twain said: "It's easy to quit smoking, I've done it a thousand times"

crusty curmudgeon's picture

Yeah, your vices are all good--others' vices prove their "retards" and they deserve to die.  You can't go part way down the road of regulating vices--without regulating them all.  As Mises pointed out, once you regulate vices that are bad for you physically, there's no rational way not to regulate more important things -- that is, things that are bad for you mentally, such as books, reading ZH, etc.

"Instead of seeking ways to allow the market … to do its job, most recommendations call for further interventions intended to clean up the unwanted effects of past interventions. [But] each subsequent intervention intended to fix an earlier one will add new distortions and generate new unintended consequences. The free market is not a panacea. It does not eliminate old age, and it won't guarantee you a date for Saturday night. Private enterprise is fully capable of awful screw-ups. But both theory and practice indicate that its screw-ups are less pervasive and more easily corrected than those of government enterprises, including regulatory ones." —Gene Callahan

morpheus000's picture

Yes it would upset the dual cartel of big business and government hand in hand as they say....

blunderdog's picture

No surprise, tho.  You see dozens of posts regularly about changing laws to "discourage" obesity, too.

Liberty itself is just way too risky, unless it's freedom to do ONLY the shit I like.  Everyone else should be taxed, sent to labor camps, shot, etc.

lemonobrien's picture

you know it's bad for you; yet you still do it; you're an addicted monkey whol no longer has control.


i don't care if people kill themselves; i actually think its good stupid people kill themselves; i just:

1) don't want to pay for it, and

2) don't think smokers have the right to pollute my air.

boiltherich's picture

I was just going to tell the prick to fuck off Tip but I like your response better!

tip e. canoe's picture

you should have read my first response that i deleted :)

if folks like above really want to encourage people to quit smoking, they should realize that the attitudes they're expressing like above are only doing wonders to reinforce the addiction.

but something tells me that really don't people to stop smoking, they just want something and someone to bitch about.   which makes me think that they're probably ex-smokers who are still struggling with their addiction.   if so, then an appeal of and for compassion & consideration would be a hell of a lot more of an effective method.

negative reinforcement (especially when it's combined with gross hypocrisy) only breeds an equal & opposite negative reaction.  if one is willing to consider the esoteric side, nicotine feeds off this energy, which is why it's such a powerful drug.

Intoxicologist's picture

Sounds like the people I encounter who sit down to a valve-closing, 10,000 calorie dinner, washed down with a half-dozen manhattans, then bitch about people who smoke and how it somehow costs them money.   Hello, kettle. 

Waterfallsparkles's picture


Yet, I am sure you drive a car or take a bus which pollutes the air for all of us.

lemonobrien's picture

i don't own a car, and i walk everywhere. i live in a city.

boiltherich's picture

And yet you still manage to be every bit as annoying as an inconsiderate smoker. 

Urban Redneck's picture

No they don't deserve that.

I think I'll step outside now and have a smoke myself, before the Francophone Fascist side of my country decides to vote in sympathy with your rather retarded convictions.

CrockettAlmanac.com's picture

So I guess there's no point in trying to bum a Gauloise.

JuliaS's picture

Die and be poor? Sure beats having it other way around! I'll smoke to that!

homme's picture

You're just jealous because it's so *cool*.

Vincent Vega's picture

The solutiion is simple and obvious: more regulation. <sarc>

JuliaS's picture

Paul Krugman thinks cancer is caused by isufficient smoking and according to Ben Bernanke free cigarettes are the cure.

crusty curmudgeon's picture

Sin stocks are indeed recession proof.

Not that we're in a recession or anything.

We laugh at honor, and are shocked to find traitors in our midst. C.S. Lewis