Anti-Tobacco Policy Dangerous For Non-Smokers

Published September 28, 2008

Dear Editor:

Reducing the rate of lung cancer in Indiana is a great goal, but the repercussions of your suggested policy are rather alarming (September 29, “Indiana has work to do fighting lung cancer”). Smoking bans and increased cigarette taxes might lower smoking rates a couple of percentage points, but at what cost to the general population and economy?

Many people fail to understand the economic impact of smoking bans or recognize how much they infringe upon constituents’ property rights. They also seem to miss the inherent regressivity of cigarette taxes.

Many establishments already have self-imposed smoking bans. Surely there’s no need to violate the property rights of business owners and consumers’ freedom to choose to partake in the legal act of smoking.

Hiking cigarette taxes is also bad public policy. Cigarette taxes are an unstable source of revenue, and such taxes unfairly single out a segment of the population that can ill-afford to pay them.

The Post-Tribune should not be advocating that state governments act as a de facto nanny to adults, who generally know the risks associated with smoking. Instead of relying on the government to parent free citizens, we would better serve society as a whole to let individuals and businesses self-regulate.

John Nothdurft ([email protected]) is the budget and tax legislative specialist for The Heartland Institute.