In the U.S., tobacco products and especially cigarettes are often taxed at both the federal and state levels. The aim of the tax is both to raise government funds and to discourage smoking, especially among minors. However, raising excise taxes isn't always bad for cigarette companies--Philip Morris is one example of a company that took advantage of recent tax increases in Japan to spike prices above the level of the tax increase, using the tax as an excuse to raise profit margins . (Altria's official policy states that it is in favor of increased governmental regulation of cigarettes.)
Critics of the excise tax cite its flat nature--because all smokers must pay the same amount of tax in the price of each pack of cigarettes, impoverished smokers are hit hardest and feel the tax's effects most.