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The Most Important Reasons Why Higher Taxes on Tobacco Would Not Reduce Smoking


It is an age old debate; there are thousands of people who say that if tobacco use were cost prohibitive, fewer people would smoke and chew tobacco. And this reason has been used many times to try and raise tobacco taxes. The premise here is that higher taxes would not only help the government raise revenue, but would also reduce tobacco use. However, this argument really seems to miss the mark. Following are the most important reasons why higher taxes on tobacco would not reduce smoking:

• Smoking is an addiction. Many people who smoke or chew tobacco truly wish they did not. The higher taxes would annoy these people and for some these taxes would create a financial problem, but they would not make people quit smoking. If it were that easy to quit smoking, far fewer people would smoke. So, the financial burden might be hard for some smokers to bear, but it wouldn’t change the fact that they’re addicted to nicotine.
• Another of the important reasons why higher taxes on tobacco would not reduce smoking is that raising taxes on tobacco simply increases bootlegging and illegal sales. The truth is that most smokers who truly cannot afford the new higher prices of the cigarettes will simply find illegal dealers who will sell them their cigarettes tax free. Not only does this notion offer one of the most powerful reasons why higher taxes on tobacco would not reduce smoking, but it creates some significant worries for parents. One of the groups most financially impacted by the higher cigarette taxes are teens, since they typically have less money. And, while we don’t want to encourage our kids to smoke, we also don’t want to encourage them to buy items from illegal street dealers that might be selling other items besides just cigarettes.
• Another of the many reasons why higher taxes on tobacco would not reduce smoking is that the revenue gained from the taxes is not typically used to help get at the root of the smoking problem: addiction. If the tax revenue gained from tobacco were used to fund useful programs like free smoking cessation seminars or smoking cessation aids like nicotine patches, then such a program might make sense. But the truth is that tobacco taxes fill the coffers of the states without ever making a dent in the true smoking problem.

Study after study has shown that there are many reasons why higher taxes on tobacco would not reduce smoking; yet the debate rages on. Many studies have also shown that there are effective ways to reduce smoking such as requiring retail shops that sell tobacco to be licensed, eliminating online sales of tobacco products, changing marketing tactics of tobacco companies and making smoking cessation programs free under major health insurance policies. But, because our state governments stand to gain from higher taxes on tobacco, they would far rather push a taxation program than any of the cessation programs that have been shown to work.

Christine Gray is a recognized authority on the subject of Online Taxes. Her website Taxes Exposed provides a wealth of information on everything you will need to know about Tax Saving. All rights reserved. Articles may be reprinted as long as the content and links remains intact and unchanged.

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