Letter: Economists miss point of hiking cigarette tax

Michael LaFaive and Todd Nesbit miss the point when they argue against raising the state’s cigarette tax [Hiking cigarette tax won’t help Hoosiers or state treasury, Jan. 4].

They argue that cigarettes are now being smuggled out of Indiana due to higher taxes in neighboring states; should we raise our tax, cigarettes would then be smuggled into Indiana. No argument on this point.

But they further assert that, “Those still consuming cigarettes today have a very strong preference for doing so.” Not true. About 85 percent of smokers express a wish to quit but are unable to do so. Most of them started smoking as children and now cannot quit.

Raising the retail tax on cigarettes is one of the most effective means of preventing minor children from taking up smoking. There is a vast body of primary literature demonstrating this over and over again.

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Dr. Joseph Kenny
Greenwood

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