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.