I’m writing this in response to the paper’s editorial position on raising taxes on cigarettes (”Maine should boost tobacco taxes,” Feb. 12). Let me be blunt here.

When it comes to the idea that people give up cigarettes because you raise the tax on them, and then you expect an increase in state revenues, the editors here fail one of the most important economic laws. Whenever you raise the price of something, you get less of it. What is so different here?

Secondly, the writers here fail to see what is unseen if you raise the tax. It’s probable that people will engage in smuggling of cigarettes from the low-tax states in the South. Or, people will grow their own tobacco and roll their own cigarettes.

In addition, the editors fail to realize this tax will hurt the people at the low end of the economic spectrum because they will be forced to pay more for this vice, and therefore their habits will hurt them financially.

What the writers here also fail to mention is that in the years 1995-2006, federal taxpayers were forced to pay farmers $530 million to grow tobacco. Why? Because this also helps to raise the price of cigarettes.

So as a society we don’t want you to smoke, but we pay farmers to grow tobacco. The utter hypocrisy of this newspaper and the supporters of these subsidies is herculean.

I think everyone would love to see people give up smoking. I support that. However, this isn’t the way to do it.

Ending subsidies and boosting education and peer pressure are far better than what this newspaper proposes.

 


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