The Cost of Lighting Up

California will consider a ballot measure to hike its cigarette tax to $2.87 a pack this November. Tobacco companies such as R.J. Reynolds and Philip Morris have poured $56 million into the campaign against Proposition 56.

Research and anecdotal evidence suggest cigarette taxes can curb smoking, KQED’s April Dembosky has reported. U.S. Census Bureau data shows the cost of a pack of cigarettes in California has generally grown in tandem with a rising cigarette tax, with a couple of exceptions. In the mid-to-late 1980s, the tax was flat but the total cost still inched up; and in the early 1990s, the total cost declined even as the tax grew.