President Barack Obama's new budget would nearly double the cigarette tax, slapping an additional 94 cents onto the current $1.01-a-pack tax. Obama proposes that the additional revenue go toward early childhood education programs. But critics say because most smokers are middle-to-lower class, the non-sliding-scale tax will hurt those already hardest-hit.
"Increase would have substantial public health benefits, particularly for young Americans," the president's budget reads. "Researchers have found that raising taxes on cigarettes significantly reduces consumption, with especially large effects on youth smoking."
Obama's proposed federal cigarette tax could have a huge effect on public health given that one-in-five Americans smoke and young smokers are particularly price sensitive. When the cigarette tax increased four years ago, cigarette sales fell by 10 percent.
The U.S. spends $193 billion a year on smoking-related costs, if direct medical payments and productivity losses are taken into account, according to a large 2012 Centers for Disease Control study.