States all over the country supplement their income by putting a tax on cigarettes. There are several justifications for this from the government’s viewpoint. The first is that it is simply a lucrative area to tax. The government of every state (and the federal government, too) are always looking for ways to bring in more money to spend on public programs. Cigarettes seem like a good choice due to their public health hazards.
Scientists have long known that cigarettes cause cancer, and more recent research has also shown how dangerous cigarettes are to innocent bystanders, as well. It’s not enough that inhaling burning cigarette smoke can cause the smoker to acquire lung cancer – second-hand smoke can do the same to people that are standing nearby. To fight this, many states have passed laws that make it illegal to smoke indoors in public buildings. They also make it illegal to even smoke outdoors if you’re on a public street or near the entrance of a building.
The idea behind these laws is that they will protect the public’s interests by keeping cigarette smoke away from bystanders. Along with many public information campaigns, these laws are arguably a big part of the giant downtrend cigarette usage is experiencing all over the country.
Creating tax money
State governments realize that they can create even more public benefit by putting taxes on cigarettes as well. The taxes drive the price of cigarettes up and make the public less willing to buy them. This creates fewer Americans dying from lung diseases, and that means that there are more Americans paying taxes and not creating a drain on the public health system.
In addition to creating less smokers, the cigarette tax also brings in millions in extra tax money that the state governments can decide what to do with. A portion of this money is spent on even more ways to combat cigarette smoking. It is an odd truth that tobacco companies essential have to pay for their own eventual destruction.
E-cigarettes: the tobacco tax of the future?
“E-cigarettes” have been all the rage in recent years. Instead of actually lighting a roll of shredded tobacco on fire and then inhaling it, e-cigarettes are small devices that look like cigarettes but are actually small machines. They vaporize a liquid nicotine and then deliver it to your mouth and lungs when you inhale. E-cigarettes are a rapidly growing market due to the fact that they can give you all the nicotine of cigarettes without making you actually breathe in carcinogenic smoke.
Up to this point another benefit has been that they weren’t taxed like cigarettes, but that is starting to change. New Jersey Governor Chris Christie has proposed a tax on e-cigarettes and their refills that would match the tax that is already on regular cigarettes. This $2.70 per pack adds up quickly, and Governor Christie wants to use some of that money to go to treating heroin and prescription drug addicts.
Opioid addiction is a major problem in the Northeast, so it makes sense that the governor would want to spend money battling what he calls a “public health crisis.” It remains to be seen whether or not this added tax actually helps lower the rate of New Jersey residents smoking any type of cigarette. It also remains to be seen whether the added funds can actually help lower the number of opioid addicts that are barely surviving throughout the country.
NJ.com: Proposed E-cigarette tax could help pay for heroin addiction treatment, NJ senator says http://www.nj.com/politics/index.ssf/2014/04/proposed_e-cigarette_tax_could_help_pay_for_heroin_addiction_treatment_nj_senator_says.html