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NEW YORK -- Cigarette sales have continued to plunge in New York City following a hefty tax increase this summer.
One-third as many cigarettes were sold in September than in June, the month before the city raised its tax from 8 cents a pack to $1.50. Coupled with a state tax that was also bumped up to $1.50 four months earlier, the average price of a pack in the city is now $7.50.
Sales were immediately cut in half the first month, and sales have since dropped nearly a third more, from 29.2 million packs in June to only 10.5 million packs in September, according to the City Department of Finance.
Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who is also pushing to ban smoking at bars and restaurants in the city, hoped the higher taxes would discourage people from smoking. But there is still no data on how many people have changed their habit and how many are leaving the five boroughs to buy cigarettes, at nearly half the price in some places.
The city is still in no danger of losing revenue from the tax change. The nearly 2,000-percent increase in the tax is more than enough to offset the drop in sales.