Tobacco tax hikes may poll well because many nonsmokers believe they'll escape the burden of higher taxes ("Anti-smoking group says public supports cigarette tax hike" 4-16). If you don't purchase the product, you don't pay the taxes, right?
Not so fast. The revenue from tobacco taxes is often tied to rapidly growing social programs. When the need for more revenues outstrips the amount cigarette taxes bring in, guess who's on the hook? General taxpayers, who will face a broad-based tax increase (like the 33 percent income tax hike Governor Quinn is pursuing now).
Indeed, a study by the National Taxpayers Union found that for tobacco tax hikes implemented between 2001 and 2006, taxpayers faced a 7 out of 10 chance of seeing other taxes hiked within two years.
Illinois leaders should instead focus on better controlling the spending obligations that prompt the call for higher taxes.
Kristina Rasmussen Executive Vice President Illinois Policy Institute Springfield