The proposal for the large increase in cigarette taxes is neither economically sound nor will it achieve the goal that the politicians have given for its passage. It is only an excuse to create other programs, and it will cost all residents dearly.
Smokers currently spend millions of dollars on various Indian reservations, which costs the state millions of dollars in sales taxes. Business on these reservations will explode when the state again raises the cigarette tax. Smokers can also purchase cigarettes over the Internet and in neighboring states.
Those who go to the reservations or out of state to purchase cigarettes will also purchase the lower-priced gasoline and other items, which will cause additional revenue losses for small convenience stores and gas stations in New York. In order to survive, these stores will need to raise the prices of other items, which will be paid by all customers.
The politicians have rationalized the tax hike under the guise of reducing smoking among teens and adults.
Unfortunately, teens begin smoking for reasons that are not very price-sensitive. They smoke because they want to look older, they want to look glamorous, or they want to demonstrate that they are financially well off and can afford an expensive activity.
For those who are smoking and would like to quit, the most popular methods are nicotine gum and the patch. If legislators really wanted to reduce the number of adult smokers, they would encourage the use of these items.
A week's supply of either method costs more than a carton of cigarettes, and the state taxes both the gum and the patch. If the politicians were sincere about wanting to reduce smoking, the bill would have removed the sales tax from these items and provided subsidies to make it inexpensive to quit smoking.
Town of Tonawanda