The most disingenuous argument for increased cigarette taxes is that they affect only smokers. Not so fast! Cigarette taxes are an extremely inefficient and undependable source of funding because of their narrow tax base and the declining use of cigarettes. (July 8, “Odds growing that cigarette taxes will rise”) For this reason, all Mississippians should be cautious of the fallout such hikes create.
A recent National Taxpayers Union study found, “Cigarette tax hikes may encourage other [tax] increases because the extra revenue often is tied to specific spending schemes (such as healthcare or education).”
Not only does cigarette tax revenue dry up easily, thereby causing other taxes to be increased, but cigarette taxes also unfairly burden low-income taxpayers and punish local businesses. As the old proverb says, “better the devil you know than the devil you don’t.”
John Nothdurft ([email protected]) is a legislative specialist for The Heartland Institute.