Why are cigarettes so expensive in New York City? They're so high that it's almost worth crossing state lines to buy the maximum allowance of cigarettes and bring them back.
Not only does New York State impose a tax of $4.35 on a pack of 20, the highest of any U.S. state, but when you add the local New York City tax of $1.60, you have the most expensive pack of smokes in the whole country.
According to The Awl’s annual cigarette price check, for which they call delis in each state and ask how much a pack of cigarettes costs, New York clocks in with the most expensive, at more than $14 a pack.
In Kentucky, where the cigarette tax is just 60 cents, a pack costs $4.96, about a third of its cost in New York.
Here’s a map of states color-coded by how much they tax a pack of cigarettes, based on data released by the U.S. Federation of Tax Administrators earlier this year. Click on any state to see how much a pack costs according to The Awl’s price check, and how much of that price is state taxes: