Americans for Tax Reform (ATR) took issue with our support for higher tobacco taxes, which we discussed in a new paper and a blog post earlier this week. ATR makes two primary substantive points: tobacco tax revenues are volatile and the tax falls disproportionately on poor people.
But ATR completely ignores the public health aspects of this public health policy proposal. Tobacco tax revenue falls over time because tobacco taxes work — that is, they raise the cost of smoking and, as a result, fewer people smoke. That’s the whole idea. And, health benefits for low-income people would more than compensate for the regressive tax increase. As fewer people smoke, fewer people die, particularly poor people, as this graph illustrates.