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NAQC Newsroom: Research

Disparities in Cigarette Tax Exposure by Race, Ethnicity, Poverty and Sexual Orientation, 2006-2014,

Thursday, February 8, 2018  
Posted by: Natalia Gromov

Golden SD, Kong AY, Lee JGL, Ribisl KM.
Disparities in Cigarette Tax Exposure by Race, Ethnicity, Poverty and Sexual Orientation, 2006-2014, USA.
Prev Med. 2017 Dec 28. pii: S0091-7435(17)30504-2. doi: 10.1016/j.ypmed.2017.12.017. [Epub ahead of print]

Cigarette excise taxes are an effective tobacco control strategy but they vary geographically due to differences in state and local taxation. There are also pronounced sociodemographic differences in community composition, suggesting that different population groups might face vastly different cigarette excise tax rates. In this study, we examine how cigarette excise tax rates differ for population groups defined by race, ethnicity, poverty status, and sexual orientation, and how these differences have evolved over time. We constructed annual cigarette tax rates in 109 mutually exclusive jurisdictions within the United States (U.S.) between 2006 and 2014. After merging with Census sociodemographic data, we calculated annual cigarette excise tax exposures for each population group as the average of each place-based tax, weighted by the proportion of the group living there. In 2014, the average U.S. resident was required to pay $2.68 in cigarette taxes, more than 60% of which was due to state and local taxation. On average, Asian/Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander populations faced the highest average tax ($2.95), which was $0.44 more than American Indian populations. Local taxes disproportionately augmented state and federal taxes for non-White populations, same-sex couples, and people living in poverty. Geographic variation in cigarette excise taxes produces sociodemographic variation in cigarette tax exposure. Raising cigarette taxes specifically in those places where groups at risk for tobacco-related disease are more likely to live, or otherwise creating geographically uniform tax levels, could reduce important disparities in cigarette smoking.

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