Wisconsin cigarette sales go up in smoke over 20 years

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Cigarette sales in Wisconsin plummeted over the past 20 years, fueled by higher taxes and smoking bans, a report released Wednesday showed.

The number of packs of cigarettes purchased in the state dropped from 420 million in 2001 to just under 193 million in 2022, the Wisconsin Policy Forum report said. On a per capita basis, more than 32 packs of cigarettes were sold per resident in 2022 compared with nearly 78 in 2001.

During that time span, a statewide smoking ban took effect, taxes were increased on cigarettes three times and there was a growth in substitute products like vaping, the report noted. The statewide smoking ban, which included bars and restaurants, took effect in 2011. State taxes were increased in 2002, 2008 and 2009, while federal taxes also increased in 2002 and 2009.

That report details only legally purchased cigarettes. It notes that due to higher taxes in Wisconsin, some smokers may have illegally smuggled cigarettes or legally purchased them in other states where taxes are lowered.

Wisconsin’s current tax on a pack of cigarettes is $2.52, above the media of $1.78 and 16th highest.