Special Report

States Smoking the Most Smuggled Cigarettes

9. Utah
> 2013 consumption smuggled: 27.3%
> 2013 cigarette tax rate: $1.70 (14th highest)
> Smoking rate: 10.3% (the lowest)
> Pct. point change smuggling rate (2006-2013): 14.5 (6th highest)

More than 27% of all cigarettes consumed in Utah in 2013 were smuggled into the state, the ninth highest percentage among all states. The share of smuggled cigarettes consumed has also risen by 14.5 percentage points since 2006, the sixth largest surge nationwide. The increase is largely due to the state’s cigarette tax of $1.70 per pack, which was not only one of the highest such tax rates in 2013, but it had also increased 145% since 2006 — also one of the largest tax rate changes. As in many other states where smuggling cigarettes is common, criminals often buy cigarettes at a discounted price in nearby states and resell them in Utah. Neighboring Idaho, Nevada, and Wyoming, where cigarettes are taxed at less than $1.00 per pack, all reported net outflows of smuggled cigarettes. The high cost of tobacco may also have helped discourage smoking altogether. Roughly one in 10 Utah adults were smokers in 2013, the lowest smoking rate compared to other states.

ALSO READ: The Cities Where No One Wants to Drive

8. Texas
> 2013 consumption smuggled: 27.4%
> 2013 cigarette tax rate: $1.41 (22nd highest)
> Smoking rate: 15.9% (5th lowest)
> Pct. point change smuggling rate (2006-2013): 12.6 (8th highest)

While the cigarette tax rate of $1.41 per pack in Texas was slightly lower than the national average rate of $1.44 per pack, the tax rate rose 244% between 2006 and 2013, the third highest increase nationwide. The spike may be especially shocking to Texas residents, who are perhaps more accustomed to relatively low taxes. Texas residents paid just 7.5% of their average personal income in state and local taxes in 2011, nearly the lowest nationwide. Tobacco smuggling is on the rise. More than 27% of all cigarettes consumed in the state were smuggled in 2013, up nearly 13 percentage points from 2006, a larger increase than in all but a handful of states. While Texas’ smuggling rate was among the highest in the country, the smoking rate was not especially high. Less than 16% of Texas adults smoked in 2013, one of the lowest smoking rates in the country.