Sure the Associated Press may incorrectly suggest that Missouri, not South Carolina, has the lowest cigarette tax in the nation, but that’s beside the point.

New York says it’s $2.75-a-pack tax has done what smoking bans that forced them out into the cold snow couldn’t: It’s broken the will of smokers.

The number of calls to the state’s Smoker’s Quitline quadrupled to nearly 10,000 calls during the week of June 2, when the full $2.75-a-pack tax kicked in, New York Health Commissioner Dr. Richard Daines said. Fewer than 2,300 people called for help during the same week in 2007.

Smokers calling the Quitline requested nearly 7,900 kits the week the new tax was introduced compared with 1,722 requested the same time last year.

Audrey Silk, who heads NYC Citizens Lobbying Against Smoker Harassment, said the initial increase in quitline calls doesn’t realistically represent how many people will become nonsmokers.

“No matter the goal, it’s disgusting that any group would actually boast that coercive government — this time through the hammer of taxation — to beat a class of society enjoying a legal product into submission is ‘successful’,” Silk said.

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