New York’s Gutless Politicians: Let’s Raise Cigarette Tax Just to Raise Revenue

March 31, 2008

Politicians in an election year will do anything to not raise taxes in a form that they should be raised (i.e. raising a broad-based tax). That’s why they frequently do what is happening in Albany: raise taxes on an arbitrary product consumed by a minority of citizens (i.e. cigarettes).

Cigarette taxes should not be set at a given level for the sole purpose of raising revenue. If the elected officials want to justify a cigarette tax on the grounds that they impose negative costs on society, then so be it. Determine that level and tax it appropriately. But don’t just raise the tax on an arbitrarily selected product consumed by some minority of people because you need to raise revenue in an election year. Our Founding Fathers had a word for those types of policies: tyranny.

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