Cigarette Taxes Won’t Solve Missouri’s Budget Problems
The Southeast Missourian printed a new op-ed today by Christine Harbin, Show-Me Institute policy analyst and regular Show-Me Daily contributor. She dismantles the conventional wisdom that taxing people’s vices is a good way for the state to raise revenue. Here’s a paragraph from her analysis:
I credit lawmakers in Missouri for being forthcoming about the fact that the purpose of this tax increase is to generate tax revenue, not to discourage bad behavior. Lawmakers often attempt to discourage smoking on moral, ethical or public health grounds with higher taxes, but that’s not the issue here — money is. No matter the reason for higher cigarette taxes, though, this policy won’t solve the state’s money problems. The tax increase will cause smokers to buy fewer cigarettes. Some will smoke less as a result, and others will quit entirely. Their personal health may benefit, but they won’t contribute any cigarette tax revenue.
Visit the Southeast Missourian’s site to read the rest. And, if you’d like to read more on the subject, check out an earlier commentary about cigarette taxes by former Show-Me Institute editor Tim Lee.