Sun back to Mixed Messages

From this morning’s op-ed page:

The higher tax would raise about $15 million annually. That’s money badly needed to bolster the state’s now-minimal tobacco control efforts. The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends Maryland spend at least $46.8 million annually to discourage smoking and help users quit, but after recent budget cuts, the state’s current program amounts to less than $18 million.

The point of a high tax on cigarettes is not merely to balance the state budget; it’s to discourage people from buying them at all. Tobacco use is the single most preventable cause of death and disease in this country. A tax policy that fails to discourage all types of tobacco use demonstrates a disregard for public health.

The Sun, as usual, continues to want to have it both ways. They want to raise tobacco taxes to raise revenue, while at the same time discouraging people from buying tobacco products. Considering that Sun editors already seem to have spent the extra $15 million in taxes they are proposing on these little cigars, can they seriously believe that this is serious policymaking? Do they really believe that the law of diminishing returns constitutes sound fiscal management?

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And I repeat something else I have asked before: if the Sun and others believe tobacco to be so dangerous, why do they not call for tobacco products to be outlawed? Is that any more of a “disregard for public health” than raising the taxes on cigarettes (a tax clearly aimed at the lower and middle classes, by the way)…


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