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Tax Forcing New Yorkers To Butt Out?

Cigarette sales in New York plummeted almost 50 percent in July after the city raised the tax on each pack from 8 cents to $1.50, according to new figures from the city's department of finance.

New Yorkers purchased 15.6 million cigarette packs last month, down from 29.2 million packs in July 2001. But because the tax was so much higher, millions more tax dollars poured into city coffers.

The tax revenue for July was $12.3 million, compared to $2.3 million during the same period last year.

The new tax, which Mayor Michael Bloomberg supported to help close a record budget gap, drove the price of some name brands to more than $7 per pack.

There are no studies yet to determine whether New Yorkers are quitting smoking or simply taking other avenues to fix their nicotine cravings, such as online mail order buys or trips out of town.