Minnesota has eighth most expensive cigarettes

The average pack in Minnesota costs $8.11, roughly 42 percent of which goes to state coffers.

The average pack in Minnesota costs $8.11, roughly 42 percent of which goes to state coffers.

In 1981 a young, angsty Paul Westerberg just wanted more cigarettes. But at Minnesota’s 2015 prices, our then-future indie-rock hero might not have been able to afford ‘em.

Between drags, Minnesota smokers often bemoan the cost of a pack, inflated like a lung balloon by one of the nation’s highest excise taxes. It’s no secret that Minnesotans pay more for 20 tickets to flavor country (or emphysema town). But numbers recently crunched by an anti-smoking group show us exactly how much more.

According to new info from the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, Minnesota has the eighth highest cigarette prices in the country. After the tax man takes $2.90 in the name of excise, plus another $.53 in lieu of the general sales tax, Minnesotans cough up an average of $8.11 per pack.

Compared to cig tax leader New York, where cancer sticks cost $10.29 — more than $4 above the U.S. average — it might seem like a steal. But our neighbors in North Dakota pay the fourth lowest at $4.56. Wisconsin’s average price is $7.65.

While cigarette prices are expectedly low in states with ample tobacco fields, such as North Carolina and Kentucky, Missourians are practically paying Mad Men prices at $4.41 — lowest in the country. Louisiana is only a nickel behind. A number of Southern states, including Georgia, Alabama, and Mississippi are among the 10 states paying less than $5 a pack.

Behind New York, northeasters Rhode Island, Connecticut, Massachusetts, and Vermont flesh out the top five priciest states.

Since jacking up the excise tax in 2013, Minnesota’s high cigarette prices might suck for smokers. But according to an estimate last fall, it netted the state around $614 million in 2014 — enough for about 76 million packs.