Sin Tax Update…
Many U.S. Smokers Say Higher Cigarette Taxes Are Unjust
But many smokers think smoking restrictions in public places are justified
WASHINGTON, D.C. — Governments have increased taxes on cigarettes in recent years at least partly to discourage smoking, but more than half of U.S. smokers (58%) see these tax hikes as an act of unjust discrimination.
About two in five smokers (39%) think the tax increases are justified. Smokers are now slightly less likely to feel discriminated against on this basis than they were in 2002.
The latest result comes from Gallup’s 2014 Consumption Habits survey, conducted July 7-10. The median state cigarette tax is $1.36 per pack, and the federal government tacks on another $1.01. In places such as New York City, the combined city and state tax is as high as $5.85 — often higher than the price of a pack of cigarettes itself.
One reason various levels of government have increased these levies on cigarettes in recent years in that many public health advocates believe cigarette taxes can reduce smoking. But the large majority of smokers, 71%, do not believe they personally smoke less because of the tax increases.
However, 26% admit that the higher taxes discourage them from lighting up, a finding that policy advocates might see as a success because cigarettes are notoriously addictive.
Independent research on the effectiveness of tax increases for reducing smoking rates is mixed. A study published by the National Bureau of Economic Research says, “It will take sizable tax increases, on the order of 100%, to decrease adult smoking by as much as 5%.” Still, other researchers conclude that higher cigarette prices do reduce smoking rates among certain subgroups, such as the young.
Many Smokers Think Smoking Restrictions in Public Places Are Justified
While a majority of smokers think higher taxes on cigarettes are unjustly discriminatory, a solid majority of smokers say increased restrictions on smoking in public places are justified (58%). Meanwhile, 37% say these restrictions unjustly discriminate against smokers. These attitudes are similar to those in previous years.
Originally written by Andrew Dugan