So What Happens When We Run Out of Smokers?

Seri­ously, Con­gress just jacked the price of a pack of smokes by increas­ing the fed­eral cig­a­rette tax 61 cents to finance the expan­sion of S-CHIP.  Now, after rais­ing the sin tax $1.00 in the last state bud­get “to cover up the last bud­get hole;” Gov­er­nor Jim Doyle — a wholly owned sub­sidiary of WEAC — is now hit­ting up the smok­ers of Wis­con­sin for another 75 cents per pack.

Now, I don’t smoke and never have, but you do have to won­der at what point does per­sonal eco­nom­ics over­ride nico­tine addiction?

Gov. Jim Doyle will call for a 75-cent increase in the state tax on a pack of cig­a­rettes in the bud­get he will announce at 7 p.m. today – a change that would raise the state tax on smok­ers to $2.52 per pack, three sources confirmed.

If approved by the Leg­is­la­ture, the increase would mean that the state tax on a pack of cig­a­rettes would have tripled in the six years that the two-term Demo­c­ra­tic gov­er­nor has been in office – from 77-cents to $2.52. The $1 per pack increase – from 77-cents to $1.77 – approved two years ago cost smok­ers about $110 mil­lion more a year, accord­ing to the Leg­isla­tive Fis­cal Bureau.

A 75-cent increase in the state tax would fol­low a 62-cent increase per pack in the fed­eral tax, which was raised to pay for health-care pro­grams for children.

The new 75-cent increase in Wisconsin’s tax would be part of an attempt to raise money to pay for health care and smok­ing ces­sa­tion pro­grams and make the price of smok­ing so high it forces smok­ers to quit and stops chil­dren and teens from start­ing to smoke.

Tonight, Doyle will also again call for a ban on smok­ing in work­places statewide, includ­ing restau­rants and tav­erns. The governor’s push for a sim­i­lar smok­ing ban two years ago never got a vote in either the Assem­bly or Sen­ate, but some form of it is expected to pass the Leg­is­la­ture this session.

One has to ques­tion the logic of simul­ta­ne­ously rais­ing the cig­a­rette tax while ban­ning smok­ing in work­places statewide.  Admit­tedly, one could still (the­o­ret­i­cally) light up out­side, but peo­ple tend to smoke socially and you take that away and well, they’re likely to quit.

If they quit, where we going to find the tax revenue?

Oh yeah…the rest of us.

ADDENDUM: Denis Leary’s clas­sic take from the 1990s on Smoking.

Be Socia­ble, Share!
  • dad29

    Who pays all those taxes, anyway?

    Nobody with an Inter­net connection…

  • Mike

    I’ve won­dered what the price per pack would have to hit before peo­ple start grow­ing and cur­ing their own tobacco for per­sonal use, just to avoid taxes.

  • http://admin kev­in­bin­ver­sie

    There would be a black mar­ket long estab­lished and under the con­trol of car­tels like most ille­gal drugs long before that happens.