When Governor Paterson raised tobacco taxes, anti-smoking advocates were overjoyed. The taxes, they had hoped, would lead to a significant drop-off in sales — maybe even 10 percent.
They weren’t even close. The New York Post reports that since the cigarette levy was upped to the nation’s highest in July, sales have nosedived 27 percent across the state.
While the declining sales may spell trouble for your local bodega owner, it doesn’t mean people are smoking less. There’s an intriguing phenomenon where New York towns bordering Vermont and Pennsylvania have seen cigarette sales nearly vanish. Nictotine in the water over there? Well, not exactly. Residents are simply driving a few miles and buying their packs for $6.00 instead of $11.60. And though they’re farther away, Manhattan-dwellers are making the same trip, the Post says.
Smokers may have found a way around the taxes, but the convenience store owners taking the hit aren’t pleased. “Every tax increase drives more smokers to that dark, shadowy, unregulated, unlicensed, untaxed side of the street,” James Calvin, of the New York Association of Convenience Stores, told the Post. “The whole policy is self-defeating.”
So, support the bodega workers! Hand them your 14 bucks for a pack and don’t think twice about it.