A pack of cigarettes cost just 25 cents in the 1950s. At a time when the general public was not aware of the harms of smoking, cigarettes were cheap and widely popular.
Since 1965, the adult smoking rate has fallen from 42% to 15%. Despite the decline, smoking is the leading cause of preventable death in the United States, accounting for nearly half a million deaths each year.
Following the Surgeon General’s landmark 1964 report on smoking and health, governments employed many strategies to reduce the smoking rate. While warning labels on packaging, anti-smoking media campaigns, and health education in schools play an important role in promoting a smoke-free lifestyle, the most effective method to reducing cigarette consumption has been increasing the retail price of a pack of cigarettes by raising taxes.
The average cost of a pack of cigarettes, including all taxes, in the United States today is $6.16. Of this, excise taxes amount to $2.70 — $1.01 in federal cigarette tax and $1.69 in state cigarette tax on average. In some areas like New York City, high local taxes drive the price of cigarettes to over $10 per pack.
To highlight how the price of cigarettes has changed over time, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed the average price per pack since 1954.