Stories tagged cigarette tax

Apr
01
2009

You're charging me how much?: Even big shots like Bogart are taking note of the large increase in cigarette taxes that are going into effect today.
You're charging me how much?: Even big shots like Bogart are taking note of the large increase in cigarette taxes that are going into effect today.Courtesy Yousuf Karsh / Library and Archives Canada
What do you get when taxes on a pack of cigarettes jump 250 percent? Lots of calls to smoking cessation programs.

Today, the federal tax on a pack of cigarettes jumps from 39 cents a pack to $1.01 The national average price for a pack of cigarettes prior to the tax hike was $5.

In the past, a 10 percent hike in cigarette tax translated into a four-percent increase in people quitting smoking. Health experts expect those numbers to climb even higher with today’s hefty tax hike. One number being tossed around is a nine-percent decline in smoking with the new tax.

Prior to the tax hike, public consumption of cigarettes had been dropping about three percent per year. That drop, experts point out, includes people who outright quit and those who cut back on their smoking.

Smoking cessation hotlines have seen a huge spike in business in recent days. An Omaha office has seen its call traffic go up 50 percent this week. An office in Michigan has seen its annual budget already dry up after having fielded three times as many calls this year as it had in all of 2008.

There’s an interesting political twist to this cigarette tax increase, whose new revenue will be used to fund a national children’s health insurance program. Congress approved the tax increase last year, but President George W. Bush vetoed the bill. President Barack Obama, who has struggled to stop smoking himself, signed a new version of the bill shortly after taking office this year.

What do you think of these causes and effects on a cigarette tax? Is a “sin tax” like this a good way to drive public health policy reform? Or this an abuse of government power interfering with people’s private lives? Share your viewpoint here with other Science Buzz readers.