Tobacco Excise Taxes Improve the Health of People with Limited Incomes

April 20, 2023

Tobacco excise tax increases – endorsed by the U.S. Surgeon General  - are a highly effective tobacco control strategy because increasing price is proven to reduce smoking, especially among youth and people with limited incomes.[i] Tobacco excise taxes can also reduce tobacco-related health disparities among people with limited incomes and among racial and ethnic populations.[ii],[iii] People with limited incomes have been found to be more sensitive to price than higher income populations and quit tobacco at greater rates after a tax increase.[iv] Current low tobacco prices continue to incentivize smoking for people with limited incomes. Tobacco excise taxes benefit people with limited incomes and reduce tobacco-related health disparities, especially when tobacco excise tax revenues are dedicated to cessation programs that serve people with limited incomes.[v]


[i] U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The Health Consequences of Smoking: 50 Years of Progress. A Report of the Surgeon General. Atlanta, GA: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, Office on Smoking and Health, 2014. Printed with corrections, January 2014.

[ii] The Community Guide. Tobacco Use: Interventions to Increase the Unite Price for Tobacco Products. November 2012. Retrieved from

[iii] Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Response to increases in cigarette prices by race/ethnicity, income, and age groups--United States, 1976-1993. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep. 1998 Jul 31;47(29):605-9. PMID: 9699809.

[iv] Farrelly M.C., Bray J.W., Pechacek T., Woollery T. Response by adults to increases in cigarette prices by sociodemographic characteristics. South. Econ. J. 2001;68:156–165.

[v] Smith CE, Hill SE, Amos A. Impact of population tobacco control interventions on socioeconomic inequalities in smoking: a systematic review and appraisal of future research directions Tobacco Control 2021;30:e87-e95.