Cigarette Tax Hike Could Make Price $7 a pack

April 4, 2007

A proposal in Nassau County, NY could have cigarettes going up to near $7 a pack. More from WABC:

Lawmakers in eight counties outside New York City are pushing to impose a new cigarette tax that would raise the cost of a pack to around $7.

Nassau County Executive Tom Suozzi and Presiding Officer Judy Jacobs are pushing the bill, sponsored by Hempstead Democrat Earlene Hooper. It would authorize Nassau, Suffolk, Westchester, Orange, Putnam, Rockland, Dutchess and Rennselaer counties to implement a $2 cigarette tax.

“Anybody in elected office, the best legacy we can leave is to make it so prohibitive to smoke that, in spite of themselves, people will live longer,” Jacobs told Newsday.

Of course, some special interest groups have supported this plan. From Forbes:

Representatives of the American Lung Association of New York State Inc. and the American Cancer Society also endorsed the higher tax proposal.

“The American Cancer Society enthusiastically supports any initiative that will discourage people, especially young people, from smoking or that encourages smokers to quit,” said Dee McCabe, regional vice president of the American Cancer Society. “An increase in the price of cigarettes should accomplish that objective.”

Cigarette taxes have proven to be politically popular because they are imposed on a minority of individuals who engage in behavior that many believe is morally wrong, yet such hikes raise revenue for programs that everyone benefits from. Unfortunately, such social engineering through the tax code appears to have many supporters in public office. But maybe we just need to wait until the social engineers come after habits that are more popular (even with those in office) yet still dangerous – like eating fatty foods, drinking soda, not exercising enough, skydiving, etc.

And is the American Cancer Society going to be consistent in their support for extra taxes on items that cause cancer and support a tax on tanning beds, or would that be too politically unpopular?


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