Feds' Tobacco Tax Is Detrimental
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by Ross Nordeen

[This letter appeared in Florida Today on March 2, 1998]

[Essays Page Editor's Note: This letter was written in response to a Florida Today editorial supporting a "sin" tax on cigarettes to curb cigarette use and to finance a variety of government programs.]

The inherent contradiction in the "sin" tax on cigarettes that you endorse is blatantly obvious. On the one hand, it is supposed to curb use of the product, and on the other hand, it is supposed to raise billions of dollars for the federal government. Clearly, if it is successful at reducing or eliminating cigarette consumption, there will be little or no revenue.

There are other problems inherent in this type of tax. It is disproportionately paid for by the poor. It risks creating a black market with all the attendant violence and corruption. It can encourage people to try to get more bang for their buck by using stronger products such as unfiltered cigarettes.

This is not the first time that the government has tried to save us from ourselves through higher taxes and more regulation. I fear it will not be the last.


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