A number of anti-smoking groups are pushing for Connecticut to bump its tobacco cigarette tax from $3.40 per pack to $4.90 — a jump of $1.50. According to the American Cancer Society, the American Heart Association, the American Lung Association and the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, such a bump would increase state revenue by some $60 million and result in about 16,000 adults in the state kicking the habit.
Pushes like this are rarely resisted and often garner a lot of public support. But a surprising detractor from the argument is Rep. Jeffrey Berger. He makes a legitimate argument — that at this point, yet higher taxes on cigarettes often simply drain funds from already low income individuals which can’t kick the habit. Often this is most harmful to the elderly.
However, he mentions that he would be willing to consider a tax on electronic cigarettes instead. He argues that such a tax would be placed to discourage potential smokers from starting.
You can read full coverage of the issue here.
On the cigarette tax end of things, Berger isn’t really wrong. Sin taxes have lost support in recent times as political and behavioral experts now argue that they rarely succeed in doing what they’re designed for. Often, they don’t prevent consumption of said sin. They generally have little to no effect on whether wealthy individuals partake, and only further drain the limited resources of those in lower incomes — which often lack the support, education, or resources necessary to quit the sin.
However, taxing electronic cigarettes and vapor products seems likely only to strengthen tobacco’s grip. It sends a message that vaping is as bad as smoking, keeps many smokers from transitioning, and prevents new companies from competing with and wresting customers from tobacco companies — allowing them to continue shilling the death they’ve gotten away with selling for decades.
By taxing cigarettes harshly and leaving e-cigs be, we further encourage the obsoletion of combustible tobacco consumption. Get rid of the smoke, and 99% of the harm evaporates with it.