Cigarette tax forum yields positive results

For the second time in as many months, representatives from the Nassau County Legislature met with officials from Suffolk, Rockland, Westchester and Orange counties, as well as New York City, to discuss the possibility of enacting a cigarette tax. New York City, which already has a cigarette tax of $1.50, is considering upping it to $2.

“There seems to be a consensus among the governments involved that a tax on cigarettes of $2 would be an appropriate figure,” Presiding Officer Judy Jacobs (D-Woodbury) said. “We feel that the revenue this will generate, not to mention the health benefits that will come from it, will make the price increase more than worth it.”

Also discussed at the meeting was how to address the concerns of certain groups that have expressed opposition to any additional tax. Groups such as the Long Island Gasoline Retailers and New York Association of Convenience Stores maintain that illegal cigarette sales are rampant and any tax may increase the problem. However, the consensus among the governments involved was that their concerns should be addressed through aggressive enforcement and that it should not stand in the way of an agreement to implement a cigarette tax.

“It is our hope that we can build a consensus on this issue before bringing it before lawmakers in Albany,” Jacobs added. “This must be done at the state level, but with enough people behind it, I am confident that this can get done in the near future.”