Low-income New Yorkers are already among the most vulnerable in our society in many ways, but a recent study conducted by the Public Health and Policy Research program of RTI has now shown that as a group, they spend a much greater percentage of their income on cigarettes. They are targeted by advertisements in convenience stores and exposed to higher volumes of secondhand smoke in an environment that is more accepting of it.
In fact, although smokers earning less than $30,000 a year paid 39 percent of state and city taxes on cigarettes, there are inadequate resources available to help them quit using tobacco.
“The poor pay $600 million in cigarette taxes and get little help in quitting,” Russ Sciandra of the American Cancer Society said.
Why isn’t the revenue collected from the higher taxes on cigarettes being directed into increased efforts to decrease the smoking rates among this population? Those trying to quit are often unsuccessful, in part, due to the close proximity to other smokers and having less cash to purchase smoking-cessation aids.
Allocating resources targeting this population to decrease smoking rates and exposure to secondhand smoke would reduce disparate health impacts related to tobacco use and exposure.