Legislature Blowing Smoke At Consumers

Published August 20, 2007

“Targeted Taxes,” (August 8) blows the smoke screen off tobacco taxes. The Illinois Legislature is in the process of raising taxes again, with a 75-cent hike on each pack of cigarettes on top of the existing 98-cent levy. Cities and counties add another 10 cents a pack on average. What is a smoker–or an entrepreneurial nonsmoker–to do when faced with a $1.83 tax per pack of cigarettes? They will go to neighboring states and the Internet to purchase cigarettes because tax rates are lower there.

This will hurt Illinois retailers’ sales of gas, groceries, and other items. A cigarette tax is not just a tax on tobacco, it’s a debilitating burden on other commerce. The legislature should reject this destructive idea.

Jim Johnston ([email protected]) is an economist retired from Amoco and a policy advisor to The Heartland Institute.