The Awl came out with a map on the 2011-2012 changes in price of a pack of cigarettes at a gas station in each state’s major city. The entire idea of this is fun to think about; How much more money are New Yorkers flushing down the drain than I am? But the logic behind this is illustration is so flawed that I was personally offended. Here are the problems:
The data on this map is just for Marlboro Reds. No other cigarette. No average cigarette. Just Reds. All the cowboys have died, so who buys reds?
Anyone who smokes knows that you never buy ciggs at a gas station (unless it’s a Wawa). They are so much cheaper at convenience stores. Gas stations are often places of highway robbery. I’ll take 7-11 any day over Hess.
They called one place in each state. Thats right. One single place. That type of data sampling is not enough to come to such bold conclusions about cigarette prices statewide (and the subsequent change in average cigarette prices).
Have you ever heard of sales? I sometimes see a pack of cigarettes selling for $5 and when purchased they are actually on sale for $4.25. These happen randomly without warning, like Jewish holidays. Who knows if the survey was conducted during one of those days? It just seems like I’m being left out of what really is happening here.
I don’t know Nic. But reading his methodology, it seems to me he can be a dick. I feel like Nic called these people up and said something like “I hate smoking and I think you guys are cancer enablers. So can you hurry up and give me the price of your Marlboro Reds?” Maybe I’m wrong. But that’s how he comes off to me.
Anyways. This map does help you understand where you should stock up on ciggs and where you should avoid long weekends. At least you get an understanding that it may just be cheaper to drive to New Hampshire and stock up on cartons of ciggs instaed of buying a pack a day in New York.