Stubbed cigarettes in ash tray
Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

Democrats Combine Nanny State, Tribalism With Tobacco Plan

Dominic Pino writes at National Review Online about the problems with Democrats’ tobacco-tax proposals.

President Biden promised not to raise taxes on people making less than $400,000 per year. He has actually said that the middle class would see a tax cut under his “Build Back Better” agenda, and that “all of it” — that’s 100 percent, for those of you keeping score at home — “will be paid for by the wealthy paying their fair share.”

That is, unless you make choices that progressives disapprove of. Then, no matter how much money you make, you’re apparently fair game for a tax increase.

Democrats want to raise about $100 billion over the next ten years by raising taxes on tobacco products and introducing new taxes on vaping products. Tobacco usage is not a rich-people thing; in fact, it is quite the opposite. About 14 percent of American adults overall are smokers, but 21 percent of American adults living in households making less than $35,000 per year are smokers.

Democrats have tried to wiggle their way out of this clear violation of Biden’s no-tax promise. …

… The Post also asked Howard Gleckman, a tax scholar at the left-leaning Urban-Brookings Tax Policy Center, if the proposals violated Biden’s pledge, and he answered, “Absolutely, no question.”

You might think it’s just one excise tax; how big an effect could it possibly have? The taxes Democrats have proposed, however, would be very significant. They want to double the federal excise tax on cigarettes and then raise every other tobacco tax to match the new cigarette tax. According to the Tax Foundation’s Ulrik Boesen, that would mean a 2,000 percent increase in the tax rate for chewing tobacco, for example. Boesen also looks at how the Democrats’ proposals would affect low-income Americans. He estimates that, combined with average state-level taxes, a pack-a-day smoker making $35,000 per year would pay 5.2 percent of his or her annual income in tobacco taxes if the Democrats’ proposals are adopted.

Mitch Kokai / Senior Political Analyst

Mitch Kokai is senior political analyst for the John Locke Foundation. He joined JLF in December 2005 as director of communications. That followed more than four years as chie...