Tom Weaver: Why a tobacco tax to help end shutdown is smart

  • Article by: TOM WEAVER
  • Updated: July 7, 2011 - 9:59 PM

Raising it is the smart choice for a healthy budget and healthier people.

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rthashmarkJul. 7, 1110:18 PM

price those ciggies right out of existance and watch your tax revenues crash then what genius?

tinitiniJul. 7, 1110:18 PM

I'll support the increased tobacco tax as soon as they institute a fat tax and an old tax. Getting old and getting fat are just as likely to cause a burden on society, so they should chip in to solve the budget woes. I'm not a smoker, but these people already pay through the nose for a commodity that should be dirt cheap here in the States. Leave them alone.

viragorickJul. 7, 1110:19 PM

What happens when this tax forces everyone to quit? Were will the tax dollars come from then? I used to smoke and I'm sure many more will quit due to more taxes. More taxes! What a great idea!

akmscottJul. 7, 1110:33 PM

What a sheep commentary!I think we need a big fat tax on health club memberships!I think a 50 cent per mile jogging tax would be prudent because of all the knee and ankle problems jogging creates.I think a big fat bicycle tax would be in order because of all the grief they cause motorists.Just a few more taxing suggestions that would add dollars to the coffers.

klotzmJul. 7, 1110:35 PM

NO NO NO!! Pawlenty added $.75 & Obama added another $.75. we have been kicked out of all bars & restaurants and ALL of Hennepin County. Raise another $1.29 & many will go to another state for cigs. This is being oppresive to one group only - and many are poor too.

Mark27Jul. 7, 1110:50 PM

This editorial is an endless litany of lies, as we've been accustomed to hearing on everything tobacco-related over the last quarter century. The sleight of hand that the author uses with his "$3 billion dollars in extra health care costs per year" meme is pretending that those who don't smoke run up $0.00 in health care costs annually. From an actuarial standpoint, smokers are a bargain, running up 21% LOWER lifetime health care costs because of premature attrition. If the author relayed the numbers honestly, he would tell us that smokers accrue $3 billion in annual health care costs, but those who don't smoke accrue $3.63 billion in annual health care costs as a consequence of living longer and thus feeding from the public health care trough longer. So smoking is entirely self-financing and then some, completely negating the "tax the smokers to offset their costs to society" canard. Moving on to the additional untruths in the editorial....

Mark27Jul. 7, 1111:00 PM

I'm also curious where the author gets his information on public support for cigarette tax increases. Perhaps his special interest group, whose very existence is dependent upon picking the pockets of smokers, conducted some rigged polling, because the most recent poll I saw was from the Star Tribune which showed only 37% public support for raising cigarette and alcohol taxes to fix the budget. People are catching on that this mindless path-of-least-resistance revenue gimmick is simply mortgaging the state's financial future on an expectation of permanently robust cigarette sales. The irony and diabolical cynicism of Mr. Weaver's argument is wasted on fewer people than it used to be....if people quit smoking en masse like he claims to want, then the state's budget is unbalanced and we're right back to where we started next year. Plus, preying on the personal weaknesses of smokers to the tune of thousands of dollars per person every year is starting to feel just a little bit icky to those of us who, unlike the author, have a conscience.

RossbergJul. 7, 1111:06 PM

The only reason that 60% of people approve of a cigarette tax is that they're the ones who don't smoke so therefore they don't pay it. It's also a pretty sure bet that non-drinkers would approve of an alcohol tax increase for the same reason. And so forth. That's the nature of sin taxes - a great idea until they tax your particular sin. All in all Mr. Weaver has put together a very silly and misleading commentary. When anything is taxed usage of the taxed item declines therefore the tax revenue declines. His recommendation has to do with punishment, not the economics of taxation.

Mark27Jul. 7, 1111:07 PM

And lastly, stacking on another $1.50 per pack of cigarettes would price most Minnesota cigarettes at somewhere in the neighborhood of $7.25 per pack. The global market value of a pack of cigarettes is around 60 cents. That amounts to a 1,200% tax-inflated markup. The author would have you believe that we can sell cigarettes at this far above market value without consequence, but arguably the most underreported story on the globe is the extent to which the smuggling of cigarettes into tax-crazy jurisdictions in America and Europe has become the fastest growing criminal enterprise. Organized crime and Middle Eastern terrorists can make $2 million in a weekend trucking market-value cigarettes to, for example, New York City or London. There comes about where artificial price inflation through taxation is one and the same as prohibition, and as we have to waste scarce public resources busting players in the black market for freakin' cigarettes, it starts to look and smell a lot our current society-crushing failure that is the war on drugs.

Mark27Jul. 7, 1111:13 PM

And as someone sympathetic to Governor Dayton's position in this budget fight, I make a special plea to him to ignore the devils on his shoulder that are Tom Weaver, Tom Horner, Dave Durenberger and the other forces of "Big Anti-Tobacco" trying to persuade him to kneecap working people with this sneak attack tax that came out of nowhere 48 hours ago and is now flooding the editorial pages as the "sensible compromise". Governor Dayton, a lot of people voted for you on the promise that you would tax the rich to make up the budget shortfall. If you end up holding the rich harmless but once again shank politically disempowered smokers, hundreds of thousands of your supporters are gonna feel betrayed and rightly so. This will be seen as "Dayton's cigarette tax" and your party will suffer in the polls for it next November. A tobacco tax is neither effective nor morally defensible public policy. It was an abomination when Pawlenty did it. It was an abomination when Obama did it. And it will be an abomination if you do it. Please, Governor Dayton....don't do this!


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