Cut the Tobacco Tax to Just $1,000 a Pack

By June 12, 2009Taxation

No surprise. We’re not the first to use reductio ad absurdum in mocking those who think that you can always keep raising tobacco taxes. (See earlier post on financing health care reform.)

The Tax Foundation’s Gerald Prante made a similar point in a blog post last week on the Florida governor signing a tobacco tax hike into law, “Gov. Crist Spouting Nonsense on Cigarette Tax Issue“:

As Attorney General, Gov. Crist spouted nonsense about price gouging. Last year as governor, he spouted nonsense about property taxes in the state. And now, he’s spouting nonsense about cigarette taxation. Here’s what he said on Tuesday after signing into law a $1 cigarette tax increase in the Sunshine State.

“I view it more as a health issue than a tax issue,” said Crist, a Republican who broke with a career-long opposition to tax increases. ” Ronald Reagan used to say if you want to kill something, tax it. It wouldn’t be bad if we killed smoking. It would save a lot of lives.”

The obvious question for Crist is why stop at $1? If it’s so bad and government should try to kill it, why not make the tax $1,000 per pack? But this shows that his seeing it as a health issue is ridiculous. If that was the case, he would indeed make it $1,000 per pack, but that would lower revenue (you’d be in the rare case of being on the right side of the Laffer Curve). This is more about Crist trying to recover some of the money lost from his irresponsible property tax “reform” last year than about reducing smoking rates.

You would also think a governor of Florida, of all states, would be sensitive to issues of smuggling and piracy.

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