An increase in the federal tobacco tax by 61 cents a pack went into effect yesterday. The cost of a pack of brand-name cigarettes is now over $6 at most local retail outlets. The price of cigars, smokeless tobacco and other products also increased.
The standard suggested retail price for a carton of Phillip Morris branded cigarettes is now $63.06 in Ohio, or $6.31 per pack. Generic-branded cigarettes are still less expensive than the name brands, but the flat tax is the same for all varieties.
Many manufacturers increased their prices prior to the tax increase in an attempt to make up for the revenue they expect to lose from smokers who quit, rather than pay the higher price. The suggested retail price in West Virginia is now almost identical to that in Ohio, so Ohio smokers accustomed to crossing the Ohio River will no longer find price relief there.
The federal tax is now $1 per pack. Revenue from the increase will fund the continuation of the Children’s Health Insurance Program.
Studies have shown that cigarette tax increases do prompt smokers to quit. One shows that for every 10 percent increase in the cost of cigarettes, smoking rates decline three to five percent.
“Most smokers what to quit and the tax increase may be the impetus for many to finally make a quit attempt,” said Alvin D. Jackson, director of the Ohio Department of Health.
For those for who have decided cigarettes are too expensive, and have decided to quit, the Ohio Tobacco Quitline at (800) QUIT-NOW is offering a free two-week supply of nicotine patches, as well as advice and counseling.