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Question of the day

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

* The setup

Illinois lawmakers have approved raising cigarette taxes by $1 a pack. It now goes to Gov. Pat Quinn, who supports the increase.

The state Senate approved the legislation 31-27 Tuesday in a vote that largely followed party lines.

Democrats argue the increase will help close a hole in the state Medicaid budget and also help prevent smoking. Republicans object to any tax increase.

Officials face a $2.7 million budget problem for Medicaid. They’ve already approved spending cuts of roughly $1.6 billion.

* The Question: What’s your opinion of the cigarette tax hike? Make sure to explain, please. Thanks.

- Posted by Rich Miller        

88 Comments
  1. - OneMan - Wednesday, May 30, 12 @ 12:40 pm:

    As someone who does not smoke I am all in favor of taxing others.
    But man do those smokers have it rough when it comes to taxes…


  2. - Small Town Liberal - Wednesday, May 30, 12 @ 12:42 pm:

    I’m a smoker. Fully support. For those who argue it’s a diminishing revenue source, that’s not a bad thing when it comes to smoking.


  3. - East Sider - Wednesday, May 30, 12 @ 12:42 pm:

    The “it will help reduce smoking” argument is lame, in my opinion. Here in the Metro East, everyone just crosses the river to the dozens upon dozens of gas stations lined up along the border (cheaper gas, cigarettes and booze). Nicotine is a highly addictive drug, and smokers will find a way to continue buying cigarettes, whether it be through the black market, crossing state lines, or downgrading to GPCs.


  4. - Stones - Wednesday, May 30, 12 @ 12:43 pm:

    Agree with OneMan. I don’t smoke cigarettes so I don’t have a horse in this race. That being said, I have several friends who complain about the price of cigarettes and I do admit to feeling some sympathy for them.


  5. - Robert - Wednesday, May 30, 12 @ 12:43 pm:

    I’m glad it passed. Better than cutting Medicaid further, better than cutting more early childhood education, and higher effective cigarette prices will result in fewer cigarettes smoked, certainly a good thing.

    Downsides are:

    (1) Some revenue will go to neighboring states as people cross the border - yes, some will, but this is already taken into account in developing the increased revenue estimate.

    (2) It is regressive - yeah, but not as regressive as medicaid cuts!

    I’m thankful that some republicans voted for the hike. Republicans in Illinois’ state legislature are much more amenable to compromise than republicans in Congress.


  6. - Dr. Ian Clevanger PhD - Wednesday, May 30, 12 @ 12:44 pm:

    I’m a smoker and I say go for it. Maybe I’ll smarten up and quit, or maybe I’ll just buy them elsewhere…..but we need SOME kind of revenue and this is seemingly the one stream that is available.


  7. - Adam Smith - Wednesday, May 30, 12 @ 12:46 pm:

    Tax cigarettes straight out of existence for all I care.

    BUT, this tax is a terrible way to try and solidify the fiscal footing of Medicaid. It is a lazy quick-fix that will result in further funding crisies in the future.

    How can we create a financially sustainable safety net for an evermore expensive program by taxing something we, as a society, are committed to eradicating entirely in the future?

    Also, it belies the perpetual stupidity of Illinois fiscal policy to tax cigarettes to fund a growing Medicaid program while we spend millions of dollars through “Illinois Quits” to stop people from smoking.

    The hospitals and docs are all in a lather about the possibilty of getting their reimbursements reduced and justifiably so. But to all fall in line to support such an irresponsible financial scheme is a mistake.

    As usual, in Illinois, the people who feed off the government (no matter how worthy their work) will support any idiotic proposal if it keeps the money flowing.

    Cuts in eligibility and breadth of coverage are the responsible and hard thing to do. Yes, some will not get needed care, but it will preserve the access for millions of others and focus more squarely on primary care, wellness and essential care that is the foundation of our safety net.


  8. - House of Pain - Wednesday, May 30, 12 @ 12:46 pm:

    Smoke if you got em…or while you got em !


  9. - ChicagoR - Wednesday, May 30, 12 @ 12:47 pm:

    Seems to me that we win either way - either we get more money for needed care, or people smoke less.


  10. - Simple - Wednesday, May 30, 12 @ 12:50 pm:

    Less kids will smoke. Less kids will die. Good bill.


  11. - OurMagician - Wednesday, May 30, 12 @ 12:51 pm:

    Cue inevitable story about every border area having people go across for item. Nothing wrong with taxing items that are not necessary for living, they are luxury items that people choose. Now pass and sign a gaming bill.


  12. - wizard - Wednesday, May 30, 12 @ 12:54 pm:

    am a non smoker for over 6 yrs. opposed to the tax as it hurts low income people the most. the smokers i know will give up food first.


  13. - sal-says - Wednesday, May 30, 12 @ 12:54 pm:

    “Republicans object to any tax increase.”

    Dying from lung cancer is not pleasant, nor pleasant to watch. Lost 2 good friends that way when they were 63 within a year of each other.


  14. - Skirmisher - Wednesday, May 30, 12 @ 12:57 pm:

    Like most ex-smokers, I am pretty much a crusader against the stuff, and I would be glad to see it taxed out of existence. That being said, adding a tax to cigarettes is a pretty lame approach to resolving the fact that Medicaid is structurally unaffordable. The program itself needs further major reforms with massive cuts in eligibility before it can possibly stand on its own two feet.


  15. - Nuclear Bozo - Wednesday, May 30, 12 @ 12:58 pm:

    I’m OK with it for all the above mentioned reasons. Why not add booze and guns at the same time, oh wait, stronger lobbies?


  16. - IllinoisXPat - Wednesday, May 30, 12 @ 12:59 pm:

    The good:
    1. Will cause some smokers to quit smoking
    2. Will reduce medical expense to some small extent
    3. Will create some increase in tax revenue

    The bad:
    1. Will create an increase in cigarette smuggling
    2. Will not raise revenues nearly as much as anticipated


  17. - anon - Wednesday, May 30, 12 @ 1:09 pm:

    While all this is going on, I can’t help but think how much more revenue the State would see if it would legalize and tax marajuana.

    That said, I’m sorry for the smokers but I don’t think it will stop anyone from smoking.


  18. - Anon - Wednesday, May 30, 12 @ 1:10 pm:

    I’m also a smoker and fully support it. I hate the habit and could use any form of motivation to help quit, especially one that helps fund such an important program.


  19. - Surf1 - Wednesday, May 30, 12 @ 1:14 pm:

    The tax is fine. The public healthcare costs of tobacco are extreme. The tax may incent more appropriate decision-making.


  20. - Just Me - Wednesday, May 30, 12 @ 1:14 pm:

    Since smoking causes so many health ills, it is reasonable to ask those damaging themselves to help pay the additional medical costs. All the reasons given for taxing and not taxing are all valid. however valid reasoning has nothing at all to do with our legislature and how they come up with some the dreamland ideas they get. If it would bring in $1 of revenue you can bet they found a way to make it cost $10 to do and to put another $10 in their pockets.


  21. - collar observer - Wednesday, May 30, 12 @ 1:16 pm:

    Support - so much better than if it had not passed. Fills a gap - is a needed band-aid. Now on to a complete reform of our very regressive tax system in Illinois where we tax our wealth not our poverty.


  22. - lake county democrat - Wednesday, May 30, 12 @ 1:19 pm:

    At what point have smokers paid enough taxes to cover the “additional medical costs” they are incurring? If we’re not at that point, tax them. If we are, don’t.


  23. - Robert - Wednesday, May 30, 12 @ 1:21 pm:

    ==we spend millions of dollars through “Illinois Quits” to stop people from smoking==
    We spend millions? I’m skeptical on government re-education programs’ effectiveness. Let’s cut that program.


  24. - Regular Reader - Wednesday, May 30, 12 @ 1:24 pm:

    I agree with raising taxes to discourage smoking, and I agree for many of the reasons already mentioned here.

    I disagree with using this new revenue to scale down the Medicaid deficit. It makes our commitment to Medicaid ironically and partially dependent upon smokers.

    It’s like the state is saying we really want to help you quit smoking… oh wait, don’t quit, we need your money.


  25. - Tax - Wednesday, May 30, 12 @ 1:25 pm:

    Many of the people being cut are the same people that will be paying the additional tax. Great plan.


  26. - Downstate Entrepreneur - Wednesday, May 30, 12 @ 1:25 pm:

    I figure that if I can unload 200 cartons a day that I buy in Indiana and sell them here in Illinois, I can make a tidy living.


  27. - Impeach Art Schultz - Wednesday, May 30, 12 @ 1:28 pm:

    I don’t oppose it, I generally think a “sin tax” is better than raising income taxes.

    however I fear that this won’t make a real dent in the Medicare deficit.


  28. - Jeff Trigg - Wednesday, May 30, 12 @ 1:42 pm:

    Sorry non-smokers, this will cost you too. $1/year to everyone in America because of federal matching. You’ll pay, or the children will when this increases the national debt.

    A nickel or dime increase might have been reasonable, but adding another $1 is being a bully. $75/carton in Chicago going to government? It WILL fuel crime and violence, something their revenue projections didn’t even address.

    Thou shalt not bear false witness…. In my book, lying in order to sell tobacco is little different than lying to sell a tobacco tax. The ACA/anti-tobacco crusaders are no better than big tobacco PR machines at this point. Pretending there are no negative consequences to this dramatic tax increase is not being honest. And they are lying about the $700 million revenue projection. How many cig tax increases across the US have met revenue projections? 1/3?

    This bill already spends the $700 million, so what happens when the revenues are low? The $9 billion in unpaid bills will increase. What hard decisions do they have to make next year because of these overblown revenue promises? Cuts to education?

    This hike will also cost us jobs and income tax revenue along with the increase in smuggling and criminal activity. I suspect there is a reason none of the issues other than windfall revenues were discussed. Its the exact same inept process that has the state in the mess it is in.

    Frankly, its not any of the government’s business if someone smokes. Its not my business or any commenters business either. The smoking rate in IL went down to 17% from 25% in the last few years without IL adding another $1/pack tax. Truthful education is a better deterrent than excessive taxation anyway.

    So, if the government and you are going to butt your heads into private business, where is the equivalent $75 per cheesecake tax? $7.50 per slice. Where is the equivalent $22 per 2 liter tax on soft drinks? Where is the equivalent $16 per six-pack tax on beer? Smokers are NOT the only people making unhealthy choices that “cost” the state and not all smokers “cost” the state anything at all, yet they are being singled out. That is not fair, plain and simple. Its the majority cramming down their opinions on the majority, whether they are poor or not. Its disgusting.

    Big tobacco should have sued out of business instead of Clinton giving them a deal. I’d probably support a Constitutional amendment to ban the manufacture and sale of cigarettes if done right. If people want to smoke, they can make their own. Tobacco prohibition would never work, but we could eliminate the big tobacco industry.

    $75/carton in taxes and fees is beyond extreme. Spending the money before it is realized is bad fiscal governance. If you support this tax hike, when the revenues fail, open your wallet and put your money where your mouth is. Then next time, make sure those projections are realistic instead of getting fooled yet again.


  29. - the Other Anonymous - Wednesday, May 30, 12 @ 1:46 pm:

    It doesn’t bother me, except for what it symbolizes about our politics. Cigarette taxes are one of the few revenue sources politicians are not afraid to raise. So, as of this legislation, the total (federal, state, county, city) tax on one pack of cigarettes in Chicago will be $5.67. Just the tax.

    Honestly, I don’t mind. But it’s a symptom of a broken debate about revenue and spending that we can only agree on raising cigarette taxes.


  30. - chefjeff - Wednesday, May 30, 12 @ 1:48 pm:

    In a bar, after midnight, gladly pay $5 for a couple cigarettes. Fortunately this is once a year. They should start making 2-packs. I’ve heard some bodegas now sell cigarettes by the each.


  31. - One of the 35 - Wednesday, May 30, 12 @ 1:48 pm:

    I say subsidize the price of cigarettes for state workers. That way we help the pension system cash flow and funding requirements by limiting peoples life span.


  32. - reformer - Wednesday, May 30, 12 @ 1:50 pm:

    * Illinois already has one of the most regressive state & local tax systems in the nation.
    * Cigarette taxes are highly regressive.
    * Chicago & Cook County already have one of the highest cigarette taxes in the country.
    * Five House Republicans violated their ATR pledge to never vote for a tax hike. Seven of them violated their IPI pledge to repeal the inc tax without raising other taxes.


  33. - Earnest - Wednesday, May 30, 12 @ 1:51 pm:

    Support. Cuts alone are not going to get the job done. Just as in the situation with cuts to education and Medicaid, I’ve got to support the needed action and give respect to those who make the hard votes.

    In a different world, it would be nice to see a revenue-enhancement that doesn’t hit lower income people and businesses on the state border harder than many others, but for that you’ve got to have people willing to engage on approaches to revenue-enhancement.


  34. - wordslinger - Wednesday, May 30, 12 @ 1:51 pm:

    I smoke and I’m for it. It’s a small price to pay when you’re talking about taking away home care for kids on ventilators.


  35. - Cheryl44 - Wednesday, May 30, 12 @ 1:55 pm:

    As an ex-smoker who quit after the last tax increase, I’m for it. Some more people will quit, some kids won’t take up the habit.

    For those of you still smoking, here’s a thought–I had no idea how much money I was spending on smokes until I quit. It’s like giving yourself a fairly hefty raise.


  36. - Anonymous - Wednesday, May 30, 12 @ 1:55 pm:

    I am a non-smoker, so I suppose I’m fine with it, but wonder if the justification is reducing health risks, then why not tax everything that is demonstrably unhealthy? Sodas, candy, fast food and alcohol are all easy targets, and then it would not take much to go after motorcyles. Just look at those accident rates.

    Let’s face it, this is about money, a predictable revenue stream. This has as much to do with reducing health risks as Rahm’s speed cameras have to do with safety– NOTHING. $$$


  37. - Magoo - Wednesday, May 30, 12 @ 1:57 pm:

    As a person who quit smoking for health reason I think it is a good move but I doubt that it will accomplish it’s financial goal.


  38. - T - Wednesday, May 30, 12 @ 2:02 pm:

    It’s not something people need - like food - so I’m all for taxing it. I don’t know if it will diminish smoking or anything like that. But if you want to tax something that people choose to do as a recreational habit, fine.


  39. - Langhorne - Wednesday, May 30, 12 @ 2:05 pm:

    As policy, the contradictory goals equal folly.

    It won’t raise half the estimated amount. Look at the diminished rate of return last time the tax was raised.

    Cigs are the only bootleg item of same quality.


  40. - hisgirlfriday - Wednesday, May 30, 12 @ 2:08 pm:

    I support it, but I haven’t bought a pack of cigarettes in at least 5 years and I have to admit I was completely shocked when I was standing behind someone in line the other day and his pack of smokes was like $9.75.

    I can remember buying a pack of cigarettes 10 years ago for about $3.50 or thereabouts. Thank goodness I never got hooked. I simply can’t imagine finding the money to support that habit.

    @chefjeff, smaller packets of cigarettes is an interesting idea. I know Ireland sells smaller packets… err I just looked it up and apparently they banned their 10-cigarette packs… supposedly to reduce smoking by making packs of cigarettes more expensive. I would guess this same argument will keep American cigarette packs from getting smaller.


  41. - How Ironic - Wednesday, May 30, 12 @ 2:17 pm:

    Love the idea. And the border towns arguement is 100% folly.

    Those that already live on the border DON’T buy their cigs in IL anyways. So what are they going to do now? NOT buy them in IL twice?

    There is zero downsides. Either people continue to smoke, and drive money to the states coffers OR they stop smoking….and save the state money on the backend in lower health care expense. Driving more money to the states coffers.

    Win-Win. Should have made the increase $2/pack. Or more.


  42. - Colossus - Wednesday, May 30, 12 @ 2:21 pm:

    I’m for it, I’m also a smoker. I’m hoping it helps nudge me down on the consumption scale.

    I have never understood claims that we will lose massive amounts of revenue to border hoppers. I’m sure it happens, especially right after the tax kicks in, but c’mon, people aren’t going to drive from Springfield to MO for smokes. At least not in significant enough volume to make a difference. And those Champaign hipsters running over to Indy will quit by the time school starts because it’s a hassle to plan and gas ain’t cheap. It’s the definition of a strawman argument.


  43. - BehindTheScenes - Wednesday, May 30, 12 @ 2:27 pm:

    I guess I don’t understand legislator logic, when in the same sentence they can raise the tax on a pack to boost revenue and boast that this will cut down on smoking. I quit over 40 years ago when they were 35-cents a pack. So why am I not rich now with all the money I saved. Whole ‘nother argument. Perhaps toll gates at the borders to recoup some of the taxes lost to those out-of-state purchasers. Just kidding Mr. Madigan…


  44. - Long Con - Wednesday, May 30, 12 @ 2:32 pm:

    I think it set up the table perfectly for another $1 per pack increase in 2015.


  45. - SCREWDAFED - Wednesday, May 30, 12 @ 2:34 pm:

    Even if I didn’t smoke, I would feel smokers are carrying too much of a burden. Why not impose a tax on all opera, theater, and symphony ticket sales? How about a flat $100 tax on all cars costing more than $40,000? How about legalizing marijuana and taxing it? What a bonanza that would create! How about hiring some forensic accountants to dig into the accounts of our elected officials? That might put us in the black real quick!


  46. - Retiring12 - Wednesday, May 30, 12 @ 2:37 pm:

    Why another tax? Stop the state practice of punishing those returning state funds not needed. Everyone can tighten their financial belt. The practice of either spend it or loose it has to stop!


  47. - reformer - Wednesday, May 30, 12 @ 2:41 pm:

    == There is zero downsides…win/win. ==

    How about bootlegging, tax evasion and loss of business for Illinois retailers? Or don’t you consider those downsides?

    How about targeting people of mainly modest incomes, instead of, say, tax on services used mostly by the affluent? I know, THAT would be class warfare, but soaking the poor never is.


  48. - JoeVerdeal - Wednesday, May 30, 12 @ 3:00 pm:

    I don’t smoke, fortunately….

    It would be interesting to see if this tax increase actually nets any gains in revenue. Most folks who smoke would likely see this tax as another excuse for a nice trip across the border….into Kentucky.

    Illinois is going to have to make a much more serious effort to control spending, eventually.


  49. - How Ironic - Wednesday, May 30, 12 @ 3:02 pm:

    @reformer

    Spare me. Those that are going to ‘cross the border’ are already doing it. As I said…what are they going to do? NOT buy cigs in IL twice?

    Bootlegging, tax evasion, I suppose. Cigs are not illegal, just more expensive.

    I say if the taxes are too high…stop smoking. If your arguement is that ‘poor people shouldn’t have to pay so much for cigs’…good luck with that.

    Poor people use a disproportionate level of medical services based on smoking related illness. If they want tax payers to foot the bill…they need more skin in the game.


  50. - inthisbusiness - Wednesday, May 30, 12 @ 3:13 pm:

    I’m all for it, even though it will personally make me busier on my job. However, the fact is people “on the borders” will not really increase buying out of state that much. But, the very active illegal cigarette bootlegging that goes on every single day will in fact increase. Thats 100% certain.
    Hopefully this curbs the “roll your own” businesses that were circumventing the tax stamp system.
    Also, people will likely increase Internet cigarette purchases as well.
    The $$ projections won’t be anywhere near what they expect, and I haven’t a guess about people quitting, but if it makes it harder for kids to smoke and brings in substantial sums for the state, it works for me.


  51. - Hindenburg - Wednesday, May 30, 12 @ 3:18 pm:

    *Yawn* Raising taxes and passing increasingly harsh criminal laws is standard operating procedure during election years. Can the lawmakers do something more creative? How about passing legislation to repeal hundreds of existing laws. *Yawn*

    Illinois should raise the cigarette taxes. People will still want to smoke, regardless of cost. As a non-smoker, I do not enjoy inhaling second-hand smoke whenever I am in a public place.

    Regarding Medicaid: Illinois should stop rewarding young people who have as many kids as quickly as possible with multiple partners and who never marry. The State should reduce funding to those people. Married couples should automatically receive much more medicaid money than the unmarried. How else can the poor be encouraged to build strong families.


  52. - Esquire - Wednesday, May 30, 12 @ 3:21 pm:

    As a boy, I can remember being sent to the store with a note from my parents to buy cigarettes. The cost was fifty cents.


  53. - Jeff Trigg - Wednesday, May 30, 12 @ 3:34 pm:

    How Ironic, put your money where your mouth is. I’ll bet you everything I own versus everything you own that this does not meet revenue projections.

    Are you aware people can buy “smooth pipe tobacco” and cigarette tubes online from Native Americans and make their own cigarettes for about $1/pack? Are you aware that industry has exploded in growth as the feds and states increase taxes? I don’t believe you possess enough knowledge to claim there is no downside, which is why I’m comfortable with that bet.

    Poor people use a disproportionate level of medical services based on irresponsible sexual choices. If they want tax payers to foot the bill…they need more skin in the game. Does that work for you too? 54% of all children born in IL paid by Medicaid approaching $1 billion/year in costs. How do you propose we punish those people for their bad choices so they have skin in the game? How about a $500/year tax on all women and if that tax is too high, they can stop having sex until the $1 billion/year costs decline in order to reduce that $500/year tax.


  54. - 3rd Generation Chicago Native - Wednesday, May 30, 12 @ 3:36 pm:

    I am not a smoker and support it. People are less sympathetic to bad habits being taxed. Hopefully many will quit because of it. It sure is nice being in Illinois where all Restaurants, bars, public places are smoke free. I know Sprinfield was first banning smoking in all public venues. It’s nice to go out and not have to dry clean your coats.


  55. - reformer - Wednesday, May 30, 12 @ 3:38 pm:

    == Those that are going to ‘cross the border’ are already doing it. ==

    We’re providing an additional buck-a-pack incentive to cross the border. Price affects behavor, or so my econ teacher used to say.

    How about those who “use a disproportionate level of medical services based on diet-related illness”? Are you in favor of a tax on junk food? Or do you want taxpayers to foot that bill?


  56. - Baltimoron - Wednesday, May 30, 12 @ 3:43 pm:

    To everyone who said they hope this increase pushes them to quit, I just want to wish each of you willpower, wisdom, courage and whatever else you need to quit for good! I quit 12 years ago and will root for you!


  57. - Missdaisy - Wednesday, May 30, 12 @ 3:47 pm:

    Yes smoking is bad, we all know that! It is very addictive and hard to give up. Do you really think everyone wants to smoke? We can fund programs for drugs, and booze, but the one thing there is no help with is tobacco! If we all quit, where will the state go for extra revenue??? There are other things to tax!


  58. - Hoosier - Wednesday, May 30, 12 @ 3:49 pm:

    I have never smoked but believe it’s wrong. Let’s get real and increase taxes by 1/2 percent across the board,I.E. auto, groceries, clothing,and dining out if this would happen we would recover and everyone would pay their part not just State Workers.


  59. - Dirt Digger - Wednesday, May 30, 12 @ 3:50 pm:

    When I smoked, I was addicted and thus didn’t care about the marginal costs.

    Now that I’ve quit, I’ve quit.

    Either way I’m good.


  60. - Past the Rule of 85 - Wednesday, May 30, 12 @ 3:58 pm:

    I approve the tax and am glad they included other forms of tobacco. It helps close the gap and will lessen the hardship on users of the system. I saw an ad targeting 20 legislators who had the audacity to do what’s right rather than appeasing the zealots. I think they deserve special commendation.


  61. - Independent - Wednesday, May 30, 12 @ 4:00 pm:

    I quit smoking last month, not due to the price but for future health (cold turkey is the only way that worked for me, I recommend it). That said the lure of Missouri, Indiana, and Kentucky could cost us to lose more than just cigarette revenue.

    Obese people contribute significantly to Medicaid costs. If we are going to tax poor lifestyle choices to fund Medicaid where is the tax on high fructose corn syrup and other added sugars? Sure, it would throw ADM and others into a tizzy but if this is our approach then the burden should be spread evenly.


  62. - Billy Dennis - Wednesday, May 30, 12 @ 4:01 pm:

    What the Hell do I care? I don’t smoke.


  63. - steve schnorf - Wednesday, May 30, 12 @ 4:06 pm:

    given the choices, in my opinion a no-brainer


  64. - Old geezer and caregiver - Wednesday, May 30, 12 @ 4:06 pm:

    When I eventually end up on Medicaid dying of old age and dementia, NOT LUNG CANCER, I will feel very comfortable knowing that I have MORE THAN paid my dues with this ridiculous tax!!! And…to OurMagician 12:54, here’s an idea…let’s tax toilet paper…it too is a LUXURY. and not a necessity. The pioneers and our ancestors attest to that. Let’s pass a few more stupid, invasive, and ridiculous laws. DO NOT PROTECT ME FROM MYSELF!!


  65. - Jeff Trigg - Wednesday, May 30, 12 @ 4:18 pm:

    Billy, the supposed $350 million per year in matching federal funds will not come from smokers. It will come from you or will be added to the national debt. Also, when the $700 million projection is not met but the GA spends the money anyway, it will increase the $9 billion in past due bills next year. Do you care about the national debt or the $9 billion in past due IL bills?

    Thats fine if you don’t care about smokers because it is none of your business, but you should care that the false revenue projections and federal matching will end up costing everyone more one way or another. The nannies wanting to put their noses in everyone else’s business will come after your Starbucks and “bad” food and drinks next. That is why you should care.

    Do we really want a future where only the rich can afford to legally consume what they want? That type of elitism is a recipe for further disaster.


  66. - Jeff Trigg - Wednesday, May 30, 12 @ 4:22 pm:

    Schnorf, do you stand by the revenue projections? You should know what will happen when they spend $700 million but only collect $500 million. Its a no-brainer for you to add another $200 million or so to the back log of unpaid bills?


  67. - capncrunch - Wednesday, May 30, 12 @ 4:29 pm:

    Folks who call this a regressive tax are using the wrong adjective. It is a voluntary tax. It is collected only from those people freely choosing to pay it! Better than a coercive tax which we are required to pay.


  68. - wordslinger - Wednesday, May 30, 12 @ 4:30 pm:

    –Do we really want a future where only the rich can afford to legally consume what they want? –

    Um, isn’t that the case in the past, present and future? Or are you suggesting a system of from each according to his abilities, to each according to his wants?

    If so, I’ll have the NY Strip and Lobster tonight.


  69. - How Ironic - Wednesday, May 30, 12 @ 4:49 pm:

    @ Jeff

    I never said that the revenue projections would be met. But good try.

    I said I think it was a good idea. Too bad they didn’t jack up the price higher. $2/pack would have been my goal.

    @Reformer,

    Have no problem jacking up taxes on ‘junk’ food. Chips, soda, candy…all good. And I like all of that stuff. Wouldn’t bother me a bit to pay more for it.


  70. - How Ironic - Wednesday, May 30, 12 @ 4:52 pm:

    @ Jeff

    “I don’t believe you possess enough knowledge to claim there is no downside, which is why I’m comfortable with that bet.”

    There is no downside to taxing cigarette smokers. None.

    As far as your sexual ‘tax’ get real. I would imagine you are a GOP kinda guy. The same kinda guy that’s against comprehensive sex ed in schools, free condoms for college students and against planned parenthood.

    Take away all the ways to educate folks on responsible family planning, and the methods to do so…then complain when a disproportionate number of kids are being born.

    Can’t have it both ways.


  71. - Excessively Rabid - Wednesday, May 30, 12 @ 4:53 pm:

    I quit smoking and cigarette smokers I know are pretty considerate about where and when they smoke. So I’m against taxing them. What I want is about a $500 per cigar tax, because I know a large number of cigar smokers who stink up every party to the point of forcing others to flee.


  72. - zatoichi - Wednesday, May 30, 12 @ 5:23 pm:

    Not a smoker so I don’t care. Smoking is the easy, no brainer out. So what happens when smokers decrease and revenue comes up short? Go to $2 a pack? At some point it stops being the ‘magic key’ that requires little real effort. What gets taxed next? Donuts, services, soda, restaurants, sporting events, property taxes? Lots of resistance in each of those areas. The bucks have to come from somewhere since the smoker card has been played.


  73. - Keyser Soze - Wednesday, May 30, 12 @ 5:27 pm:

    The “black market” just got darker. Hello Indiana, Kentucky, Missouri, etc., etc.


  74. - jake - Wednesday, May 30, 12 @ 5:45 pm:

    Win win. If it discourages smoking, good. If it raises revenue, good.


  75. - Anonymous - Wednesday, May 30, 12 @ 6:22 pm:

    lol…Old geezer. That post only could have been funnier if you’d said: “DO NOT PROTECT ME FROM MYSELF!! Now get off my lawn.”


  76. - Steve Bartin - Wednesday, May 30, 12 @ 6:26 pm:

    Good luck on that Illinois cigarette tax hike. Is there anyway Cook County and Chicago sales of cigarettes are going to yield more revenue for the state of Illinois after the tax?? I doubt it, no matter what their state hired economists tell them. Why buy cigarettes in Chicago , if you can buy them in Indiana or somewhere else??? There is the law of diminishing returns in taxation of certain products : especially when your neighbors have much lower taxes. Again , good luck with those revenue projections.


  77. - Langhorne - Wednesday, May 30, 12 @ 6:30 pm:

    Bootlegging is not just at the borders. If you sniff around neighborhood bars you can prob find someone who will take an order for your brand and deliver a few days later.

    Video poker is for amusement only and bootlegging is no big deal. Right


  78. - Anon - Wednesday, May 30, 12 @ 6:48 pm:

    I would like to see a direct link between any income generated by cigarette taxes and expenditures on smokers such as health care and funds directed toward cessation programs.


  79. - Inactive - Wednesday, May 30, 12 @ 7:55 pm:

    WELL, geez, more cash has to come from SOMEWHERE! Since everyone wants services without having to pay more, I guess pols have to grab it from anyone they can. Yes, I support this. Raise taxes on liquor too. But what ever happened to the lottery pouring tons of cash into the Education Fund? Or did that windfall get squandered too?


  80. - steve schnorf - Wednesday, May 30, 12 @ 8:01 pm:

    JT, I don’t know if the revenue projections are accurate or not, but my experience is that COGFA does a very good job on these sorts of analyses

    My larger point, regardless of how much it raises, was that raising tobacco taxes is a no brainer when the alternative is cuts to our already low hospital and doctor medicaid rates.


  81. - skeptical - Wednesday, May 30, 12 @ 9:21 pm:

    This bill will not end up raising as much money as the government is hoping for. Smokers will continue to smoke if they want to and will quit when they are ready. Adding. This tax will just be less income for the lower income smokers. Many people will cross the borders or order online from the many sites out there. The people of chicago have it the worst considering cigarettes are already 7 bucks a pack on average. When cigarettes hit that price it didnt stop anyone from smoking just slowed some down and increased other states sales. Who comes up with these survey numbers on how many people will be saved and how many will quit.


  82. - Hickory - Wednesday, May 30, 12 @ 9:22 pm:

    That van from Kincaid will soon start making two trips a week to STL rather than one.


  83. - Anonymous - Wednesday, May 30, 12 @ 10:01 pm:

    Off topic, but Rezko speaks

    http://www.suntimes.com/12873845-761/tony-rezko-speaks-blago-knew-of-pay-to-play-scheme-for-state-boards.html


  84. - wishbone - Wednesday, May 30, 12 @ 10:58 pm:

    Smoking is increasingly a social class issue (as in underclass). No one capable of rationale thought could continue to smoke. Tax the hell out of them.


  85. - Yellow Dog Democrat - Wednesday, May 30, 12 @ 11:19 pm:

    @Steve Bartin -

    You clearly haven’t bought cigarettes in Chicago lately.

    Half the shoppes sell cigarettes from Indiana already.


  86. - Yellow Dog Democrat - Wednesday, May 30, 12 @ 11:22 pm:

    To the Question of the Day:

    I think the cigarette tax hike is a sign of hope for state government.

    Granted, it took a threat of rate cuts for doctors to get Republicans to cooperate, but at least they cooperated.

    I’m sure Madigan made it very clear to the Medical Society that the alternative to a cigarette tax was gonna be very ugly, since there was nothing left to cut on the patient side of the equation.


  87. - Michelle Flaherty - Wednesday, May 30, 12 @ 11:51 pm:

    After reading Trigg I think we need a tax increase so the state can subsidize free cigs for seniors and those under 65 through a means testing program.
    Maybe somekinds of government rations card would work.
    Thanks for the reality check.


  88. - Jeff Trigg - Thursday, May 31, 12 @ 6:46 am:

    YDD - The Tribune reported it as 75% in 2010. “In Chicago alone, 75 percent of cigarettes are smoked from packs that don’t bear city tax stamps, said Merriman, who estimates that Chicago is losing about $10 million a month in tax revenue. Last year the city collected nearly $21 million in cigarette taxes, and $18.7 million is expected for 2010, according to the Office of Budget and Management.”

    After the Cook/Chicago cig tax hikes, in 2006 57.5 million fewer packs of cigarettes were sold in Cook County than the previous year.

    “Between 2003 and 2007, states raised cigarette taxes 57 times. But according to the National Taxpayers Union, only 16 of those hikes met revenue projections.” - thedaily

    What happens when they are $200 million short next year? No one cares. That’s scary.

    Michelle, how about we grant legislators the power give out cigarette waivers to people in their districts, or pay $15,000 worth of their pensions each year in cigarettes instead of cash. Even the retired legislators could hand out waivers. I love me some social engineering, obviously.

    wordslinger - taxing a $1 product to make it $10 is not the same thing as making a $10 product equal to a $1 product. Big distinction.

    How Ironic - I’m not a GOP kind of guy, I’m a gadfly and a loon and a whiner and a list of other names, but mostly a live and let live independent.


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