New York Cigarettes Not Expensive Enough

March 25, 2010

New York cigarettes are not expensive enough:

The state Assembly is looking to cash in on cigarettes – not marijuana – to help balance the budget.

A $1-per-pack increase in the state’s cigarette tax is likely to be included in the budget resolution Assembly Democrats plan to unveil Wednesday, lawmakers said.

“It’s the least bad choice among all the revenues,” one Assembly member said.

The hike would bring the state’s tax on cigarettes to a national high $3.75 per pack and generate more than $200 million in revenue. The increase was first proposed Gov. Paterson in January.

New York would go from having the fourth highest cigarette tax to the first (second place would be Rhode Island at $3.46 per pack). In a time of state budget problems there is likely to be at least one state proposing higher tobacco taxes. Just a couple of weeks ago we were writing about the same gimmick proposed in Georgia (here and here and here).

I’m not sure what random Assembly member meant when saying: “It’s the least bad choice among all the revenues.” It is certainly not the “least bad” for smokers. And it distracts from real tax and spending reform the state could be trying.

More on New York.

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