February 26, 2005

Local pols oppose tobacco tax hike

Mike Jacobs opposes Governor Blagojevich's proposal for a dramatic increase in state taxes on tobacco products saying, "The cigarette tax really seems like a regressive tax, especially to the 36th District, where people can just go across the river, said Sen. Mike Jacobs, a Democrat, "I think this cigarette tax is dead on arrival."

Of course, this ignores the fact that Iowa is poised to enact a huge increase in their cigarette tax as well that may make them more expensive to buy in Iowa.

Both Representatives Boland and Vershoore echo Jacobs' opposition.

Such taxes are rarely a good idea.
First, for people addicted to cigarettes, quitting can be as hard as a heroin addict kicking the habit. Continually jacking up the price of cigarettes causes few, if any, smokers to quit.
The tax rate on cigarettes is already many times higher than comparable taxes on alcohol, even though they're both supposedly sin taxes there to recoup the increased health care expenses incurred due to people that use them.
And smokers are predominantly lower income people, thus it affects these people disproportionately. And of course, lower income smokers don't have a very powerful lobby. Aside from the tobacco companies, there's no one to prevent the government digging into their pockets. They're an easy target, which legislators seem to love going after.
Then there's the libertarian angle to it which holds that the government should not try to regulate individual behavior by imposing excessive taxes.
And perhaps more importantly, prices can only be jacked up so high before it makes a black market profitable.

It's a thorny issue, but will likely be decided according to how effective the tobacco industry spreads their money around Springfield. I'm hoping Mike Jacobs' assessment of the proposal's chances is correct.

> MORE <


At 2/27/2005 7:52 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Please explain to my why Mike Boland is now aganst the cigarette tax, stating that it hurts the residents of RI County, when three years ago he voted for it?

At 2/27/2005 11:13 AM, Blogger The Inside Dope said...

Needless to say, Boland or one of his spokesman would have to answer this valid question. While the Dope doesn't have the bill you say Boland voted for in front of me, the only reasonable explanation for this might be that he voted for what he felt was a reasonable tax hike at the time, and feels that this proposed tax hike is excessive.
Anyone with a further explanation is encouraged to post.

At 2/27/2005 1:13 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hiking fees on alchohol and cigarettes are reasonable attempts to deal with the state's deficit for the following reason: smokers' health problems cost the rest of us taxpayers BILLIONS of dollars each year in terms of health care costs (Medicare, Medicaid, etc.). I call that a "user" fee that is very fair.

Smokers are free to smoke, and I won't stand in their way. But I'm damn tired of paying billions of dollars a year to cover their health care problems brought on by smoking.

Do we have a deal?

At 2/27/2005 2:24 PM, Anonymous LL Cool T said...

Do a quick google search on the correlation of increases in cigarette prices and the reduction in kids starting the addiction and you will find that the evidence overwhelmingly points to a significant reduction in kids starting to smoke as the price has gone up. This alone would be a great reason to support an increase in the tax. Illinois Quad Citians don't think twice about dining or shopping for furniture, appliances, electronics or other big sales tax generating products over in Iowa if the price is cheaper. So support the increase in cigarette taxes and ALSO change some of your buying habits and go out and support your other Illinois retailers for products OTHER than cigarettes. BUY Illinois first. Then let me know if all of those retailers who benefit from low cigarette prices and get increased sales at their local businesses will start hiring full time workers,pay them a living wage and provide health care for their families. Don't most cigarette pushers have part time, minimum wage workers with no benefits selling this stuff anyway. They will still make plenty of profit selling overpriced food and gas that i am not too worried about their economic future. They will do just fine selling a few less cigarettes.

At 2/27/2005 3:01 PM, Blogger latinv said...

Anonymous squared & ll cool:

All excellent points. As someone who buys Illinois products, goods, and services first, and always-- even when I pay a premium, thanks for spreading the word on supporting our Illinois businesses. One of my main concerns in this discussion is 70% of the population of Illinois lives within a twenty-thirty minute driving radius of a bordering state. Regardless of the product, a consumer often times makes their purchasing decision based on price first, and often times the only reason. When the first cigarette tax was put into effect two or three years ago, the state of Illinois did not come close to making the projected revenues it publicized. If memory serves, the net effect of the first cigarette tax effect was a neagative one in that we drove millions of dollars from our general fund. You can't balance the budget on tax increases. The result is you drive business and tax dollars away.

At 2/27/2005 5:20 PM, Blogger giveu2tictacs said...

I agree the the tax is just a way to tax thoose who cannot speak upforthemselves. It is easy money for the government. One of issues brought up that there is a decrease in underage smoking because the cost is higher. I would have to disagree.There are lawsin place,at least in this states,that hold the cashier and the store responsible if they do not card people who look younger than 30. So I feel the new laws in place to make sure the cigarettes are not sold to the underage are the cause of them not being sold to as much rather than the tax.

I would also like to point out that cigars and loose tobacco are not taxed the same as cigarettes, the tax is far less. Then again we have to think,who buys cigars.

Once again I think that the tax on cigarettes is unfair. If we tax them then we need to tax other sins equally because they cause equal or more harm.

At 2/27/2005 5:25 PM, Blogger The Inside Dope said...

I also should add that cigs are already taxed currently at $0.98 a pack, and this measure would add an additional $0.75, meaning smokers would be paying $1.73 per pack, or an additional $17.30 a carton, bringing them to around $51.00 per carton.
In the Chicago area where municipal taxes are in effect, this would result in one pack of cigarettes costing over $7.00.
Imagine the effect on a lower economic class smoker's budget.

And if the effect desired is acheived, that means that there will be less smokers, thus less income from this method of taxation. It would go down, instead of remain constant, which is what the state needs.

And another important fact in regard the argument that the taxes are justfied to offset increased health care costs to the state is that the increased income from this proposed hike will go to schools and roads, NOT to any health care costs. (which are already more than covered by the multi-billion dollar universal tobacco settlement.)
It's a money grab targeting the path of least resistance.

At 2/27/2005 6:29 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

OK, "DOPE," we know you have to be an avid smoker the way you are criticizing efforts to hike the cigarette tax. Puff, puff, puff --but what I'm tired of as a taxpayer is picking up the tab for smoking-related health care illnesses via Medicare, Medicaid, etc. If we agree to freeze the price of a carton of Marlboro's, then will you agree to pay for your own health care tab for cigarette-related diseases?

Please let me know.

At 2/27/2005 6:33 PM, Blogger The Inside Dope said...

Consider these facts:

Nearly 60 percent of the cost of an average pack of cigarettes already goes to the government.

Adult smokers already pay more than their fair share of cigarette-related taxes, and governments already collect more revenue from cigarettes than tobacco companies do.Currently, the federal government, all 50 states, and 464 cities, towns and counties in 8 states levy a tax on cigarettes.

In 2001, these taxes raised $8.4 billion in state revenue and another $7.1 billion in federal revenue. In this same period, the states received more than $8 billion in tobacco settlement revenue.

In total, that agreement will provide approximately $200 billion to the states over 25 years, and will continue in perpetuity. This will certainly cover any added costs from smoker's health costs.

Those are some facts that should inform anyone's opinion about this issue.

And re: anonymous' comment on increased health care costs to the state from smokers...
Why then, are cigarettes taxed at a rate several times higher than alcohol? (I'm currrently trying to find the exact figures.)
Surely, it's apparent that the damage to society done by alcohol is at least as high as that done by cigarettes. Alcohol results in costs to the state in:
health care costs due to it's deteriorative effects on health, accidents, alcohol related violence, including domestic violence, incalculable damage to families and children, and the enormous costs of dealing with the results of alcohol related auto accidents and deaths.
Why is alcohol currently taxed at a fraction of the rate tobacco is?

At 2/27/2005 6:39 PM, Blogger The Inside Dope said...

Again, to anonymous (please at least pick a name so we can reference your comments without getting them mixed up with other anons)

First of all, you have no idea if I'm a smoker. I've laid out many arguments against this tax that have nothing to do with being a smoker.

Secondly, smokers already DO pay for their increased health care costs and then some. See my post above.

Guess you have no problem with picking up the tab for all the costs of alcohol abuse?

Should I imply then that you're a heavy drinker,...glug, glug, glug... (just saying)

At 2/27/2005 6:40 PM, Blogger The Inside Dope said...

aw crap... I always forget something...

And you neglect the fact that not one penny of these new cig taxes are earmarked for health care. In other words, even if you still persist in thinking you're paying more for smoker's health care, this won't change a thing.

At 2/27/2005 9:09 PM, Anonymous Black Oak Arkansas said...


Since the cost of smokers' health care costs are in the trillions, I say let's keep raising taxes on cigarettes. Ditto for beer, wine and hard liquor. Those sin taxes are the cost of having fun in this society, and help pay for the big health care tab brought about by smoking and drinking and driving those Hot Rod Lincolns!

At 2/27/2005 9:46 PM, Anonymous PETER FRAMPTON said...

Dope, you should go to the big congressional announcement tomorrow in Davenport ... you know, the guy who runs Johnny's Italian Steak House, the guy who can cook a good steak. He's announcing sometime tomorrow in Davenport. There, I've given you a scoop. You had better show up and ask some questions!@

At 2/27/2005 10:02 PM, Blogger The Inside Dope said...

Thanks Pete... and I still love your big album. Bet those checks never stop coming.

Anyway, perhaps The Dope will dig up my fedora and put a big card reading "PRESS" in the hatband and show up, though I have no idea where I'm supposed to show up. That could pose a problem.

You know, Pete, I'm sure you can handle clicking on the contact links to the right and sending me the details in email. Any time anyone has anything they'd like to tell me without posting it here, feel free to do so.

What should I ask him though?
(and Pete, don't tell me "Do you feel like we do?")

The only thing I'd like to ask is if he could comp me a few dinners and a couple 'tini's.

At 2/27/2005 10:03 PM, Blogger The Inside Dope said...

And Black Oak... is Jim Dandy still alive?

And please provide some links to your contention that shows that health care costs to the government DIRECTLY related to smoking is in the trillions.

I think you pulled that number out of your... um, head.

At 2/27/2005 11:09 PM, Blogger The Inside Dope said...

...and does anyone else ever put this in the context of all this new right wing faux-Christian rightousness and almost militant moralizing? I mean, where does all these attempts to stamp out sin logically lead? Do we want a society where everyone is forced, even more than we already do, to go around pretending to be virtuous?
If this keeps going, we'll end up no better than the Muslim theocracies in the mid-east that we're daily encouraged to hate and consider the enemy.
We'd better watch ourselves before we become downright un-American.

And as for the Dope, I wouldn't want to live in a world without sinners. Life would be deadly dull. And sinners are always far more interesting and a lot of fun.

At 2/28/2005 12:02 AM, Anonymous Peter Frampton said...


Tomorrow is probably the watershed moment in your career. Are you going to come out and cover the Whalen event or are you not? Do you feel like I do on this one?
You need to show up, ask some questions about privatizing Social Security and how a guy how cooks steaks thinks he's ready for Congress, etc.

At 2/28/2005 1:54 AM, Blogger The Inside Dope said...

Jumpin' Jesus in a prom dress Pete... how can I show up if I don't know where it's at?? Should I just sort of cruise around Davenport stopping at various buildings and seeing if anything's going on?

And I think Mr. Whalen's known for more than just cooking steaks. He's a top flight restauranteur and businessman. He's done pretty well for himself. Hell, I'd bet he can even afford to hire other people to cook steaks. ;-)

But that said, The Dope will certainly be interested in his views on Social Security. It's doubtful his approach could be worse than Bush's disingenuous and disastrous privatization plan.


Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home