How Much Does A Carton Of Cigarettes Cost In California?

With some of the nation’s highest cigarette taxes, California has become an expensive place for smokers to buy their cartons of smokes. But just how much does a carton of cigarettes cost in the Golden State in 2023? Does the price vary much between regions or cities?

If you’re short on time, here’s a quick answer: In California, a carton of cigarettes costs between $80-$100, with prices in major cities like Los Angeles and San Francisco at the higher end. The average pack of cigarettes costs $8-$10.

This comprehensive guide will break down the pricing for cartons and packs of cigarettes across cities and stores in California. We’ll look at how state taxes contribute to the high prices, as well as other key factors. You’ll also learn some money-saving tips for California smokers.

State and Local Cigarette Taxes

California Tobacco Tax

When it comes to the cost of cigarettes in California, one of the major factors to consider is the state’s tobacco tax. Currently, California has one of the highest tobacco taxes in the country. As of 2021, the state tax on a pack of cigarettes is $2.87.

This tax is imposed on every pack of cigarettes sold in the state, regardless of the brand or type of cigarette.

It’s important to note that the tobacco tax in California is not only aimed at generating revenue for the state, but also serves as a deterrent to smoking. By increasing the cost of cigarettes, the hope is that fewer people will choose to smoke, ultimately leading to a decrease in smoking-related health issues.

Local Cigarette Taxes

In addition to the state tobacco tax, some local jurisdictions in California also impose their own taxes on cigarettes. These local taxes can vary depending on the area, and are added on top of the state tax.

For example, in San Francisco, there is an additional local tax of $0.40 per pack of cigarettes.

It’s worth noting that these local taxes can significantly impact the overall cost of cigarettes in specific areas. Therefore, it’s important to be aware of any local taxes that may apply if you are purchasing cigarettes in California.

Pricing by Region

When it comes to the cost of cigarettes, prices can vary significantly depending on the region. In California, the price of a carton of cigarettes is influenced by factors such as taxes, local regulations, and the cost of living.

Let’s take a closer look at the pricing in different regions of the state.

Bay Area

The Bay Area, known for its high cost of living, tends to have some of the highest cigarette prices in California. With cities like San Francisco and Berkeley leading the way in tobacco control measures, it’s not uncommon to find a carton of cigarettes priced higher than the state average.

In this region, a carton of cigarettes can cost anywhere from $70 to $100.

Los Angeles County

In Los Angeles County, the price of cigarettes is also on the higher side compared to the state average. The county has implemented strict smoking regulations, which have contributed to the increase in prices. On average, a carton of cigarettes in Los Angeles County can range from $60 to $90.

Inland/Central Valley

The Inland and Central Valley regions of California tend to have slightly lower cigarette prices compared to the Bay Area and Los Angeles County. This is due to various factors, including lower taxes and a lower cost of living. In these regions, a carton of cigarettes can cost between $50 and $80.

San Diego Area

The San Diego area falls somewhere in between the Bay Area and the Inland/Central Valley in terms of cigarette prices. With a mix of city and suburban areas, the prices can vary. On average, a carton of cigarettes in the San Diego area can range from $55 to $85.

It’s important to note that these prices are approximate and can vary depending on the specific brand and store. Additionally, it’s worth mentioning that cigarette prices in California have been steadily increasing over the years due to tax hikes and anti-smoking initiatives.

If you’re looking for more detailed and up-to-date pricing information, websites like Numbeo provide a platform for users to share and compare the cost of living in different areas.

Other Factors Influencing Cost

While the state of California sets minimum prices for cigarettes, there are several other factors that can influence the cost of a carton of cigarettes. These factors include the type of store where the cigarettes are purchased and the brand of cigarettes chosen.

Store Type

The type of store where you purchase your cigarettes can have an impact on the cost. Generally, larger chain stores and convenience stores tend to have higher prices compared to smaller independent tobacco shops.

This is because larger stores often have higher overhead costs, which are reflected in the prices they charge for cigarettes. On the other hand, smaller independent tobacco shops may offer lower prices as they have less overhead and can negotiate better deals with suppliers.

It’s important to note that prices can also vary between different chain stores and convenience stores. Some stores may offer discounts or promotions on cigarettes, while others may have higher prices due to location or other factors.

It’s always a good idea to compare prices at different stores before making a purchase.


The brand of cigarettes chosen can also greatly influence the cost. Different brands have different pricing strategies, with some brands positioning themselves as premium and charging higher prices, while others may offer more budget-friendly options.

Premium brands often have higher-quality tobacco and may offer a wider range of flavors or specialty options, which can contribute to their higher prices.

Additionally, certain brands may have higher taxes or fees associated with them, which can drive up the cost. For example, some states impose higher taxes on menthol cigarettes or flavored cigarettes, which can result in higher prices for these specific brands.

It’s worth noting that there are also generic or discount brands available that can provide a more affordable option. These brands often offer similar quality and flavor to more expensive brands but at a lower price point.

However, it’s important to research and read reviews to ensure that the quality and taste meet your expectations.

For more information on cigarette prices and tobacco regulations in California, you can visit the official website of the California Department of Tax and Fee Administration at

Saving Money on California Cigarettes

For smokers in California, the cost of cigarettes can be quite high. However, there are several ways to save money on your tobacco purchases. Here are three strategies to consider:

Buying Online

One option to save money on cigarettes in California is to buy them online. Online retailers often offer lower prices compared to brick-and-mortar stores due to lower overhead costs. Additionally, many online sellers offer discounts and promotions, allowing you to save even more.

However, it is important to ensure that you are purchasing from a reputable and legal online retailer. Check for customer reviews and verify that the seller complies with all applicable laws and regulations.

Crossing State Lines

Another way to save money on cigarettes in California is by crossing state lines. Different states have varying cigarette taxes, and some neighboring states may have lower taxes than California. By traveling to a nearby state with lower taxes, you can purchase cigarettes at a lower cost.

However, it is essential to familiarize yourself with the laws and regulations regarding purchasing cigarettes in a different state, as well as any limitations on transporting them back to California.

Using Coupons/Loyalty Programs

Many cigarette brands offer coupons and loyalty programs that can help you save money on your purchases. By signing up for these programs or clipping coupons, you can enjoy discounts and special promotions. Some brands even offer rewards points that can be redeemed for free or discounted cigarettes.

Check the websites or promotional materials of your preferred cigarette brands to see if they offer any money-saving opportunities.

While these strategies can help you save money on cigarettes in California, it is important to remember the health risks associated with smoking. Quitting smoking altogether is the best way to improve your health and save money in the long run.

If you are looking to quit smoking, consider seeking support from healthcare professionals or joining smoking cessation programs.

Health Considerations of Smoking

When discussing the cost of cigarettes, it is important to also consider the health implications of smoking. Cigarette smoking is a known risk factor for a variety of serious health conditions, including lung cancer, heart disease, and respiratory disorders.

The harmful effects of smoking are well-documented and have been proven by numerous scientific studies. Smoking not only affects the smoker themselves but also poses a risk to those around them through secondhand smoke exposure.

Risks of Tobacco Use

Smoking tobacco has been linked to numerous health risks. The chemicals found in cigarettes, such as nicotine, tar, and carbon monoxide, can cause damage to the lungs, heart, and blood vessels. The risk of developing lung cancer is significantly higher among smokers compared to non-smokers.

In addition to cancer, smoking increases the chances of developing chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), which includes conditions such as emphysema and chronic bronchitis.

Furthermore, smoking is a major contributor to cardiovascular diseases. It damages the blood vessels and increases the risk of heart attacks, strokes, and peripheral vascular disease. Smoking also weakens the immune system, making it harder for the body to fight off infections and diseases.

It is important to note that the risks associated with smoking are not limited to the individual smoker. Secondhand smoke, which is the smoke exhaled by a smoker or released from the burning end of a cigarette, can also be harmful to others.

Secondhand smoke exposure has been linked to various health problems, particularly in children and non-smoking adults. It can cause respiratory issues, asthma attacks, and an increased risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) in infants.

Quitting Smoking

Given the well-established health risks, quitting smoking is strongly recommended. Quitting smoking has immediate and long-term health benefits. Within days of quitting, the body starts to heal and repair itself. Lung function improves, and the risk of heart disease decreases.

Over time, the risk of developing lung cancer, COPD, and other smoking-related diseases also decreases significantly.

There are various methods and resources available to help individuals quit smoking. These include nicotine replacement therapies, medications, support groups, and counseling. It is important to consult a healthcare professional to determine the most suitable approach for quitting smoking.

For more information on the health risks of smoking and resources for quitting, you can visit websites such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) or the American Lung Association. These organizations provide valuable information and support to individuals looking to quit smoking and improve their health.


Between taxes and the high cost of living, a carton of cigarettes in California can cost up to $100 in major cities like San Francisco and L.A. While the prices may motivate some smokers to quit, those who continue face a hefty cigarette bill.

With proper planning and smart shopping, smokers can find legal ways to save on cigarette costs. However, the healthiest choice is to join the millions of former smokers in California and kick the habit for good.

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