Connecticut’s cigarette tax, $3.40 per pack, is the 4th highest in the nation. State cigarette tax rates vary widely, ranging from 17 cents per pack in Missouri to $4.35 in New York, according to a report published in Governing magazine. When Connecticut’s tax increases to $3.65 per pack on October 1, the state will surpass the Massachusetts tax of $3.51 per pack, moving into 3rd place. Rhode Island, at $3.75 per pack, ranks 2nd, behind New York State. Should the scheduled increase of another 50 cents occur a year from now, Connecticut would have the nation’s second highest tax on cigarettes.
Rounding out the top 10 states with the highest cigarette taxes are Hawaii (5), Vermont (6), Washington (7), Minnesota (8), New Jersey (9), Wisconsin (10).
Policymakers often support tax increases on tobacco products as a means of raising revenue or improving public health by encouraging smokers to quit, the Governing analysis points out. A handful of states passed cigarette tax hikes in the 2015 legislative session. Nevada lawmakers approved the single largest cigarette tax increase, raising the rate from 80 cents to $1.80 per pack, the publication indicates.
While noting that Connecticut's tax rate is set to increase to $3.65 per pack in October, the publication indicated that earlier proposals in the Pennsylvania and New Hampshire legislatures also included cigarette tax increases, but the two states have yet to pass budgets.
Kansas and Louisiana pushed cigarette taxes up by 50 cents and Ohio increased that state’s tax by 35 cents. Earlier this month, Alabama’s legislature voted down a proposal to increase that state’s tax by 25 cents per pack from the current 42.5 cents per pack, the third lowest tax in the nation. Only Georgia, Virginia and Mississippi have lower taxes on cigarettes.
The National Taxpayers Union Foundation reported that tobacco tax collections failed to meet initial revenue targets in 72 out of 101 recent tax increases, Governing reported, and as of 2011, only two states were funding tobacco control programs at levels recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which much of the tax revenue funneled into state general funds.
In Connecticut, the cigarette tax increased 61 cents in 2002 to $1.11 per pack, by another 40 cents in 2003, an additional 49 cents in 2007 and $1.00 in 2007 to reach $3.00 per pack. In 2011, the tax increased by another 40 cents to the current $3.40 per pack.