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The Tax Foundation is the nation’s leading independent tax policy nonprofit. Since 1937, our principled research, insightful analysis, and engaged experts have informed smarter tax policy at the federal, state, and global levels. For over 80 years, our goal has remained the same: to improve lives through tax policies that lead to greater economic growth and opportunity.
The nation’s first federal cigarette tax was enacted in 1864 as a Civil War revenue measure. In 2005 the federal cigarette tax stood at 37 cents per pack. The nation’s first state-level cigarette excise tax was enacted in Iowa in 1921. By 1969 all 50 U.S. states had followed suit. In 2005 state-level cigarette taxes ranged from 7 cents per pack in South Carolina to $2.46 per pack in Rhode Island. The wide variety of state cigarette excise taxes provides opportunities for consumers to shop for bargains across borders—and for smugglers to make substantial profits.
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