The harm cigarettes cause, not the state’s tax, is what’s regressive

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Recently, you ran a story about the state’s proposed cigarette tax hike (Cigarette tax hike: Promoting health or penalizing the poor?) The article featured opponents of the tax claiming the cigarette tax is regressive and will hurt low-income people most. That’s faulty logic.

The harms caused by smoking are regressive. They affect low-income people more than others. Research consistently shows low-income individuals are more responsive to tobacco price changes than other demographic groups. Increases in the tobacco tax reduce their use and therefore benefit lower-income families the most.

Smoking causes 4,900 deaths each year in Connecticut – and another 450 non-smokers die from second hand smoke exposure. The truth is simple: the only group that benefits from cheap cigarettes is the tobacco industry.

Increasing tobacco taxes are proven to be an effective way to prevent children from smoking and help adults quit. As lawmakers debate the proposed tobacco tax, I hope they will keep in mind the proven public health benefits of a significant tobacco tax increase and support increasing taxes on all tobacco products.

Joe Barbetta of Norwalk is a volunteer with the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network.

What do you think?

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