In a perfect world, taxes and cigarettes would be held in equal regard. Taxes, like cigarettes, are considered by many to be a cancerous fabrication of clever marketing aimed at quickening the death rate of the average American. However, that same average American would apparently rather just buy cigarettes on the black market to avoid taxes outright. According to new data compiled by the Tax Foundation, smuggled cigarettes account for more than 20 percent of consumption in at least 15 states.
"Public policies often have unintended consequences that outweigh their benefits," the Tax Foundation's Scott Drenkard and Joseph Henchman wrote when unveiling the data analysis. "One consequence of high state cigarette tax rates has been increased smuggling as criminals procure discounted packs from low-tax states to sell to high-tax states. Growing cigarette tax differentials have made cigarette smuggling both a national problem and a lucrative criminal enterprise."
Though fascinatingly high numbers of underground cigarette sales take place in a variety of states, New York easily takes the slightly-less-than-coveted number one spot. A ridiculous 58 percent of the entire cigarette market in the city can be attributed to smuggled cigarettes, according to data pulled from 2013. As noted by Business Insider, New York also has the highest state cigarette tax in the country at $4.35 a pack.
Thus, death and taxes continue their profoundly expensive love-hate relationship.