Smokers are taxed enough [UPDATED]Published 6:20am Tuesday, February 12, 2013 Updated 8:21am Tuesday, February 12, 2013
Smokers are an easy target when it comes to taxes.
However, in the case of the latest proposed increase on cigarettes, we believe enough is enough.
Among the proposals, Bloomington Rep. Ann Lenczewski’s would raise the state’s tax on a 20-pack of cigarettes by $1.60, from $1.23 to $2.83, a whopping 160 percent increase. The tax increase would generate an extra $440 million over two years. Gov. Mark Dayton’s proposal would raise it 94 cents a pack to $2.17.
Tax increases on cigarettes are easy to justify. After all, smoking is bad for one’s health. It is the hope of smoking cessation advocates that, if the price of cigarettes are high enough, smokers might quit, which, of course, would be better for their health.
However, for the many addicted to nicotine, quitting is anything but easy. It is likely a very high percentage of smokers would like to quit, have tried to quit, and haven’t been able to. At $4 to $6 per pack, cigarettes are already expensive. For some who smoke a pack a day, that’s nearly $200 per month.
In the meantime, a tax on cigarettes is among the most regressive around. Low-income residents are just as likely to be smokers as high-income residents, and all pay the same tax.
Minnesota needs to solve its $1 billion deficit, and some sacrifices — in the form of tax increases, spending cuts or both – will have to be made.
However, it seems like smokers are paying enough.