Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Tax Increase Ups the Ante for Smoking

Quick cash goes up in smoke

smokerLast night I was listening to my neighbor complain about having just paid $7 for a pack of cigarettes. Weary as I am of picking her cigarette butts out of my yard, I am nothing if not a helpful neighbor. So I suggested she could either get a quick payday loan or slap on one of those nicotine patches. She’s considering a loan.

Tax increases cause many smokers to quit

According to a recent article in The Washington Post, all across the country, smokers are burning up telephone "quit" lines and enrolling in stop-smoking programs. Despite the ready availability of low cost loans to finance smoking habits, the latest boost in federal excise tax on a pack of cigarettes — from 39 cents to $1.01 — is driving people to wean themselves from their potentially deadly habits. Whenever the federal or state governments boost cigarette taxes, droves of smokers quit, or try to.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, cigarette smoking and exposure to tobacco smoke caused 438,000 premature deaths in the United States each year from 1997 through 2001. Tobacco smoking cost the United States over $193 billion in 2004, including $97 billion in lost productivity and $96 billion in direct health care expenditures, or an average of $4,260 per adult smoker.

So what could be wrong with even greater tax hikes?

Given these social costs, it would seem that few tax increases could have higher upsides. So why not tack on another $5? According to an article by Michael Daly in the New York Daily News, a pack of cigarettes now costs about $10 in New York City, and the smoking rate among teens is 13.8 percent. In Kentucky where a pack sells for $4.80, the teen smoking rate is 28 percent. ... click here to read the rest of the article titled "Tax Increase Ups the Ante for Smoking"

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