Study: NY poor hardest hit by cigarette tax

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ALBANY -- A new study shows low-income smokers in New York State 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.

The American Cancer Society said the study by RTI's Public Health Policy Research Program using state data shows a need to help more poor New Yorkers quit smoking or never start.

In New York, with the nation's highest cigarette taxes, a pack of cigarettes can cost $12, though many smokers have turned to cheaper ones bought online and using roll-your-own devices.

Those earning $60,000 or more spend 2 percent on cigarettes, the study said.

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"The poor pay $600 million in cigarette taxes and get little help in quitting," said Russ Sciandra of the American Cancer Society.

He said state statistics show smokers earning less than $30,000 pay 39 percent of state and city taxes on cigarettes.

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

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