Cigarette Tax Ruse

Published September 23, 2009

RE: “Tax on tobacco can save lives,” Editorial, Sept. 9, 2009

Florida taxpayers should be forewarned that the huge drop in cigarette sales due to the state’s cigarette tax hike will come back to bite them.

These taxes are borne by a small base that gets smaller as the tax goes up, because people quit or, more likely, find ways to circumvent the tax. That is already happening in Florida.

This tax hike will burden Florida businesses and taxpayers, especially in the northern half of the state. Not to mention that such taxes fall predominantly on low-income earners.

Nonsmokers also need to be worried about this tax hike, because the more money seized from Florida taxpayers, the more expensive their government will inevitably become.

When this unsustainable cigarette tax revenue dries up, Florida legislators will merely move on to another group of taxpayers to pick up the hefty government tab. Exercising fiscal restraint and setting good spending priorities are much more fiscally sound ways to address the state’s long-term budget issues than targeted tax increases like tobacco taxes.

Budget and tax legislative specialist
The Heartland Institute

This letter to the editor was originally published in the News-Press out of Ft. Myers, Florida.