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Tobacco Ads Make me PUKe.

I don’t listen to the radio much any more.  I just find myself too busy.  However, I have heard several ads recently asking me to encourage my legislator to increase the tax on tobacco.  These ads are apparently from the American Cancer Society.  However, in the ad they say they are with the Protect Utah Kids (empire).  So, we will refer to them as PUKe to keep things simple.

When you go to PUKe’s website to view the reasons why increasing the tobacco tax would be good, you don’t get much.  Rather, you keep getting pushed to sign their petition.  The best reason to increase the tobacco tax, that I could come up with from PUKe was this:

Utah’s cigarette tax is among the lowest in the United States. In fact, Utah hasn’t raised taxes on cigarettes in eight years. Other states have raised cigarette taxes a combined 101 times since 2000.

Trends from other states show that raising tobacco taxes reduces cancer rates. Higher taxes in Utah could also prevent 19,000 young people from starting to smoke and encourage 3700 others to quit smoking.

So let me get this straight. The best reason that we should do it is because “everybody else is doing it.” I seem to remember my mommy telling asking me as a kid, “If billy jumped off a cliff would you?”

But there are more reasons not to increase the sales tax on tobacco.  The Heartland Institute provides 10 reason why a tobacco tax should not be raised.  Here are just a few of my favorites:

1. They are regressive and disproportionately burden lower- and middle-income people.

5. They encourage cross-border, black market, and Internet purchases. (See more on this.)

6. They help keep government spending up. (and I would add have a negative effect on health.)

10. Projections for tobacco tax revenues are frequently over-estimated.

I like number 10 because it directly attacks the arguments from PUKe. Their numbers are overestimated. This is a regressive tax and it will only hurt the lower-income smokers.

I don’t like smoking. I have never smoked in my life. I can’t imagine what it must be like to be addicted to tobacco. However, punishing people with a tax burden is not the right way to get people to stop. Education and hard work are the best activities to reduce smoking.

I hope Utah legislators do the right thing here and keep the tax burden on tobacco the same.  It won’t encourage tobacco use.  Tobacco is no longer vogue.  People are quitting more and more.  This tax will only hurt the state more than help it.

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2 comments to Tobacco Ads Make me PUKe.

  • Thanks for writing this. Those ads just burn my toast. Similar arguments can easily be made for any number of legal activities people choose to engage in. This kind of thing just opens the door to more nanny state target taxes.

  • From the very first ad that I heard from them, I literally wanted to throw-up. At first I thought it was a Limbaugh-style parody. I thought that maybe the Lonsberry program had created this parody. By the time the ad was over, I realized that they were serious, and I couldn’t help but think about throwing up. It hit me as they gave the web address that PUK would make a great acronym. Just add and “e” and you have great bloggin material.

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