I was curious about how many cigarettes a typical adult smoker smokes each day. Unfortunately, I couldn’t find the data on a state by state basis for any year in the last decade. So, I pulled a few sources to estimate the values. My calculation uses the excise taxes collected from cigarette sales and the current excise tax per pack to determine the number of packs sold per state. I then adjusted that value for cigarette smuggling, which is a common practice in the USA.  Citizens in states with very high taxes often buy their cigarettes from nearby states to reduce the cost. I then calculated the number of adult smokers in each state, using Census data and published values of the percentages of adults in each state who are regular smokers. With these values and the assumption of 20 cigarettes per pack (the mode), I was able to find the average number of cigarettes smoked per adult smoker in each state.

The results show little geographic trends, if any. I’ve included a data table with the map to show the medians and extremes for some of the variables.­­ A few notable finds:

Utah has the lowest percentage of adults who smoke, but one of the highest per capita consumptions; this implies that very few people smoke, but those who do average more than a pack a day.

New Hampshire has the highest per capita consumption, but also the lowest smuggling percentage (-26.8%). This means that, as a net calculation, 26.8% of the cigarettes purchased in New Hampshire are smuggled into other states. I am a bit suspicious about the fact that the state holds both of these extreme values – perhaps the smuggling percentage is off, and the actual value is even lower (more negative). Then again, maybe smokers in New Hampshire just like to smoke a lot.

Perhaps surprisingly, Nevada has the lowest average cigarette consumption per smoker. This shows that the locals don’t behave like the tourists who sit at the slots all day and smoke!

I also calculated the average annual cost of cigarettes for an adult smoker. Because the effects of smuggling were so large in some states, I was reluctant to read too much into the extremes; without knowing where a state like NY gets 61% of its cigarettes, it’s hard to say what the consumers are actually spending on a pack. So I only included a median of all the state values in the table: $1,789. That’s a pretty expensive habit!

Data sources:

http://www.cdc.gov/tobacco/data_statistics/state_data/state_highlights/2012/map/index.htm

http://apps.nccd.cdc.gov/statesystem/Default/Default.aspx

http://www.mackinac.org/media/images/2013/LaFaive_Smuggling_Chart.jpg

http://taxfoundation.org/article/cigarette-taxes-and-cigarette-smuggling-state

http://www.census.gov/compendia/statab/cats/population.html

Posted on 29 July, 2013

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