The $5 man: the underground economic response to a large cigarette tax increase in New York City
We examined the mechanisms by which living in a disadvantaged minority community influences smoking and illegal cigarette sale and purchasing behaviors after a large cigarette tax increase.
Data were collected from 14 focus groups (n=104) that were conducted during the spring of 2003 among Blacks aged 18 years and older living in New York City.
A large tax increase led to what focus group participants described as a pervasive illegal cigarette market in a low-income minority community. Perceived pro-smoking community norms, a stressful social and economic environment, and the availability of illegal cigarettes worked together to reinforce smoking and undermine cessation.
Although interest in quitting was high, bootleggers created an environment in which reduced-price cigarettes were easier to access than cessation services. This activity continues to undermine the public health goals of the tax increase.