What a Pack of Cigarettes Costs, in Every State

The price of smoking in America in 2016.

n.b. these are 2013 prices… (Photo: Bradley Gordon/Flickr)

Every summer since 2011 the Awl has released a report on the State of Cigarettes in America. As always, we called a random gas station or convenience store in each state’s most populous city and asked for the price of a pack of Marlboro Reds, colloquially known as “Cowboy Killers.” Kentucky reclaimed its 2013 title as the cheapest state, but if you want reliably cheap cigarettes, head to North Dakota — the only state to make the top five every year. New York remains the most expensive.

Thirteen people were unable to give prices over the phone, including a number of employees at the Midwestern chain Kum & Go, whom you would expect to be more chill. A woman in Kansas City said, “Honey, I don’t have time for this,” a man in Delaware gave several different price estimates before telling me I’d called a Quiznos, and someone in Salt Lake City said, “Nice try,” before hanging up on me. At one gas station in South Dakota a child answered the phone. He could estimate the price of a pack of Marlboro Special Blend but did not know about Marlboro Reds. When I asked how old he was he said, “Lemme go get my dad.”

I am the only person in the office who smokes — a source of great shame, which I blame on my mom playing too much Randy Travis when I was a toddler. Randy Travis is the smoker’s id, a man so determined to buy cigarettes he walked into a Tiger Mart naked, before crashing his Pontiac Firebird Trans Am in Tioga, Texas. If Marlboro Reds were a car they would be a Pontiac Firebird Trans Am.

47. Kentucky (last year $5.45): $5.19 = -5%

46. Tennessee ($5.70): $5.28 = -7%

45. North Dakota ($5.10): $5.32 = +4%

44. Hawaii ($8.02): $5.35 = -33%

43. Missouri ($5.64): $5.40 = -4%

42. Idaho ($5.61): $5.45 = -3%

41. Florida ($8.40): $5.57 = -33%

40. Mississippi ($5.75): $5.59 = -3%

39. Alabama ($5.97): $5.62 = -6%

38. North Carolina ($6.12): $5.81 = -5%

37. West Virginia ($5.52): $5.89 = +6%

36. Arkansas ($7.09): $5.94 = -16%

35. Ohio ($6.69): $6.01 = -10%

34. Oklahoma ($5.71): $6.04 = +6%

33. Indiana ($6.26): $6.16 = -2%

32. Wyoming ($5.45): $6.22 = +14%

31. Oregon ($6.06): $6.24 +3%

30. Colorado ($5.93): $6.31 = +6%
tied with Virginia ($4.98): $6.31 = +27%

29. South Carolina ($5.91): $6.34 = +7%

28. Georgia ($5.14): $6.44 = +25%

27. Delaware ($6.08): $6.60 = +8.5 %

26. Montana ($6.63): $6.70 = +1%

25. Utah ($7.12): $6.84 = -4%

24. New Hampshire ($6.44): $6.90 = +7%

23. Louisiana ($6.07): $6.92 = +14%

22. Maryland ($6.78): $7 = +3%

21. Nebraska ($6.32): $7.01 = +11%

20. South Dakota ($6.49): $7.09 = +9%

19. California ($7.81): $7.16 (-8%)

18. New Mexico ($7.01): $7.37 = +5%
with Nevada ($8.64): $7.57 = -12%
and Texas ($6.69): $7.57 = +13%
and Wisconsin ($8.06): $7.57 = -6%

17. Michigan ($6.64): $7.60 = +14

16. Maine ($7.47): $7.67 = +3%

15. Iowa ($6.18): $7.73 = +25%

14. Kansas ($7.02): $7.83 = +11%

13. Arizona ($7.75): $8.10 = +4.5%

12. Washington D.C. ($8.39): $8.15 = -3%

11. New Jersey ($8.06): $8.37 = -3%

10. Minnesota ($8.36): $9.07 = +8.5%

9. Pennsylvania ($7.04): $9.50 = +35%

8. Connecticut ($8.53): $9.65 = +13%

7. Washington ($9.22): $9.75 = +5.7%

6. Alaska ($13.50): $10 = -26%

5. Rhode Island ($9.13): $10 = 9.5

4. Vermont ($9.02): $10.43 = 16%

3. Massachusetts ($10.53): $10.67 = +1

2. Illinois ($13.25): $11.26 = -15%

1. New York ($13.50): $12.60 = -6.66% (!!!!!!!!!!!!!!)


Rebecca McCarthy is an Awl Summer Reporter and a bookseller.