Tax Foundation Chief Economist in Today’s Orlando Sentinel on Florida Cigarette Taxes

December 11, 2008

With many states facing multi-million (and even multi-billion) dollar budget shortfalls, legislators and governors are looking to smokers to generate revenue. Florida Rep. Richard Krisemen is proposing a $1 increase in cigarette taxes to add $1.1 billion in revenue to cover part of an approximate $2 billion shortfall in the Sunshine State.

In today’s Orlando Sentinel, Tax Foundation Chief Economist Patrick Fleenor pens an op-ed on the history of cigarette taxes and cigarette smuggling in Florida. He concludes:

“Politicians like cigarette taxes for one reason: The burden falls on an unpopular minority, namely smokers. But as history so vividly demonstrates, this view is myopic. The corrupting influence of a large black market and the diversion of scarce law-enforcement resources into a protracted battle with bootleggers harm all Floridians.”

Read Patrick’s 2003 Cato Institute paper on the subject: “Cigarette Taxes, Black Markets, and Crime.”

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