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Thursday, September 16, 2010

Lung Association Wants Ohio To Up Cigarette Tax

Posted By on Thu, Sep 16, 2010 at 12:40 PM

Flavor country might get more expensive.
  • Flavor country might get more expensive.

Cigarettes are already expensive in Cleveland. Sin taxes for stadiums and the arts have tallied extra pennies and dimes onto packs of smokes for years, plus there's the $1.25 state tax on the nicotine sticks.

Smoking levels here and around the country, however, have stayed at the same rate.

The lessons: 1) It's hard to quit, and 2) Smokers will pay just about anything to get their fix.

Which is why politicians keep going back to the well to get more money. And why shouldn't they?

Well, the American Lung Association is asking Ohio to up the state tax even more.

Get out your wallets, smokers.

According to the AP, the group wants the tax at $2.50/pack.

The anti-smoking group released a study Wednesday showing an increase to $2.50 would provide the state with at least $350 million in additional annual revenue.

University of Illinois-Chicago economist Frank Chaloupka was the lead author of the study. He says hardcore smokers make cigarette taxes much more stable for states than income taxes.

The Cincinnati Enquirer reports a spokeswoman says Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland opposes a higher tax.

John Stephenson of the National Taxpayers Union tells the Dayton Daily News an increase would hurt Ohio retailers because smokers could drive to neighboring states to buy cigarettes at lower tax rates.

That might be the case, John, except you underestimate Ohio smokers. We're broke, but we're pretty lazy. We'll just stop buying food and still pick up the $7 Marlboros at the corner store.

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