February 6, 2009

Increasing the Cigarette Tax: Will the GA Put Our Money Where Their Mouth is?

Monique Chartier

The extra financial burden of smoking to the health care system and, more specifically, the state has been put forward as one of the justifications for the proposed one dollar increase to the state cigarette tax being contemplated by the General Assembly even as we speak.

It was interesting and a little nauseating to read in today's ProJo that tobacco is a significant driver of customer traffic for certain stores and that making cigarettes sold in Rhode Island the highest taxed in the country might impact the overall business of those stores.

It also failed to take into account the impact on lawmakers of a hearing-room packed with convenience store owners begging them not to choke off a rich vein of business for them. Their warning: Fewer people will be able to afford cigarettes and those who can will look to the Internet and low-cost states such as New Hampshire for cheaper deals.

The feared result: Rhode Island’s sales will plummet and they’ll lose much-needed business. Manish Modi, who owns a small convenience store in West Warwick, told lawmakers at a recent hearing that he’s barely surviving as it is. “I cannot afford to lose any more business,” he said. “This tax increase is going to drive more and more people to close their stores and drive me almost to bankruptcy.”

Setting that concern aside for a moment and projecting that revenue to the state does increase, in view of one of the asserted reasons for this tax increase, will revenue derived by the state from this tax increase be segregated and directed not into the General Fund but towards the state's tobacco related health care expenses?

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I'm so sick of these people whining that they're going to lose money by increasing the cigarette tax. First, it makes no sense why tobacco products are legal in the first place. If a similar product was introduced today, it'd never make it to the marketplace. Never mind that it kills the idiot who consumes, but it also affects people around the idiot. I'm all for jacking up the price on cigarettes as high as possible.

As for the shop owners, we hear that all the time, but guess what, cigarette smokers are inherently lazy and lack self-discipline, thus they'll keep forking over their $8 a pack or whatever they'll cost now to get their fix.

At what point will "illegal" drugs, for the same volume, be cheaper?

Posted by: Tim at February 6, 2009 5:05 PM

It is very easy to ;ook to increase the ciggarette tax as it is a tax on a small segment of the population.

However we can not be selective when it comes to personal liberties. Sure, raise the cigarette tax.

Next, the GA will conclude that since alcohol is a "danger to society" we should raise the tax there too. Perhaps to 20%.

While we're at it, fast food makes kids fat. How about 30% there.

Let's follow MA Gov Patrick's lead. Soda rots teeth... maybe 50% sounds good.

The simple truth, yet again, is we have a SPENDING problem in this state. NOT A REVENUE PROBLEM. Sitting by and allowing the cigarette tax to increase not only openss the door, but gives the Dems a reason to continue spending like whores.

C'mon people it's not about smoking. Let's look at the big picture!

Posted by: Jim from Cranston at February 6, 2009 5:19 PM

Never smoked a cigarette in my adult life. But I try to convert all my smoker friends, many of whom are in their 60's and 70's and in perfect health thank you, to ScrewRI by shunning the states soon to be $90 a carton Marlboros in favor of the less than $20 (shipping included) Marlboros from Eastern Europe available here:

Spread the word. Let the progressives CHOKE on their cigarette taxes. Take money out of the hnands of the unions, cronies and sqealing anchor babies.
ScrewRI-and the crooks who run it.

Posted by: Mike at February 6, 2009 7:22 PM

News Flash:

The General Assembly doesn't give a rat's behind about Rhode Island businesses.

It's not that they're opposed to business per se, just that their primary mission is to keep feeding their union and welfare masters, and if businesses are sacrificed to feed the beast, so be it.

That this might really result in less revenue for them is merely reflective of bad tactics on their part, which should not surprise anyone since we're not exactly dealing with the best and brightest ... merely the obedient and the corrupt.

Posted by: Tom W at February 6, 2009 8:37 PM

If people should choose to smoke that is their decision it's their health and well being they are risking. it is now illegal to smoke in public places so no one else is at risk when smokers light up. i dont understand why the price of tobacco products keep going up. alcohol is just as bad a tobacco if not worse, i dont see the taxes going up on it. you can get a six pack of beer for the cost of one pack of cigarettes, now what kind of since does that make? atleast tobacco doesn't make people drive drunk risking innocent lives.

Posted by: Tiffany at March 14, 2009 11:42 AM

the goverment is money angry .there pants or going to fail down if they kkeep rasing prices on cigs,

Posted by: tennessee at April 6, 2009 12:28 PM