Proposed Illinois $.90 per Pack Cigarette Tax Increase

HB 0556 - Click for current status and content


To Whom It May Concern:

Below are seven reasons I believe a tobacco tax increase in Illinois will be horribly wrong.

1. This would be another regressive tax, targeting the poorest people in the inner cities, without access to options for purchasing cigarettes elsewhere. It should not be up to government authorities to place a legal commodity out of consumers' price range, or make their personal life style choices for them.

2. Tax increases on tobacco products are succeeding in reducing their targeted tax base source. Eventually, these taxes will have to be implemented elsewhere.

"The state of Illinois' revenue from cigarette taxes was $760 million in 2004, before Cook/Chicago jacked their tax rate up. In 2006, state revenues were down to $640 million.

If anyone in this state believes raising the cigarette tax by $1 per pack will bring in an additional $400-$450 million, they are either lying or stupid. Maybe $200 million, maybe, if they are really, really lucky and surrounding states increase their taxes and the black market doesn't expand fast enough.

Cook/Chicago's cigarette tax increase cost every single person in Illinois an additional $10 per year in taxes to make up for the $120 million in lost state revenue. It is a myth that non-smokers don't pay cigarette taxes as proven by the state of Illinois revenue decline in cigarette taxes.

Then there is the proposal in DC to increase the federal cigarette tax from $.31 to $1. If that happens AND Illinois increases ours? Not only will the state of Illinois not meet the $450 million expectation, but all the taxing authorities in Illinois that collect cigarette tax will lose tax revenue also. The politicians will still want to spend the amount they are projecting or the amount they used to get, but that money won't be there and they will go to the non-smokers to make up for it. The state already had to do that after 2004.

Chicago has the highest combined cigarette tax in the United States. (City, County, State, and Federal) And they want to add another $1 to it? Second highest cigarette tax in the US is Evanston, IL. Cicero, IL is 3rd. New York City is 4th, and occupying 5th place through ???? is every other city in Cook County.

Thanks,
Jeff Trigg
Executive Director - National Taxpayer United of Illinois"

3. Additional taxes will not reduce the smoking populace. Coercion and punishment are the poorest of methods to control personal life style choices in the use of a legal product. (These taxes are more and more becoming the mugging of a minority of voting residents!)

4. The additional tax will encourage an increase in crime (organized and non) and in the sale of black market cigarettes. (See example set by Canada)

5. This tax will close retail businesses and eliminate jobs when smokers refuse to purchase cigarettes in Illinois (especially close to the state borders).

6. This will defeat the state's goal to further stigmatize smokers. These legislative tactics will only encourage uncommitted Illinois residents, voters and businesses to join in our pro-choice movement.

7. Lastly, there is no guarantee that the funding from this proposed tax hike will be applied any more productively than the MSA funds (Master Settlement Agreement in 1998 between Big Tobacco and our country's Attorneys General), for which the financial penalties were also passed on to smokers. The MSA was simply a way to pass a tobacco excise tax without the inconvenience of involving Congress.

Once again, this bill is being backed by the Chicago/North Shore/Springfield fraternity of elected officials who were instrumental in passing Smoke Free Illinois. It seems, this anti-tobacco group of 'select' legislators believe they control Illinois and opinions from the rest of our state don't count for much. Big mistake!

______________________________
Garnet Dawn - The Smoker's Club, Inc. - Midwest Regional Director
The United Pro Choice Smokers Rights Newsletter - http://www.smokersclubinc.com
Illinois Smokers Rights - http://www.illinoissmokersrights.com
Illinois Smokers Forum - http://groups.yahoo.com/group/illinoissmokers/
mailto:garnetdawn@comcast.net - Respect Freedom of Choice!




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