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Patrick Gleason

FTC Calls North Carolina Bill Anticompetitive


Posted by Patrick Gleason on Wednesday, May 30th, 2012, 1:25 PM PERMALINK


House budget negotiations have been the main focus thus far in the second full week of the North Carolina legislature’s short session and one thing is clear - that, despite the best efforts of Gov. Bev Perdue and Walter Dalton, the final product will not include a tax or fee increase. While this is good news for taxpayers in the Old North State, there is still some problematic legislation pending with SB 655/HB 698 remaining under consideration.

in response to a request from Rep. Stephen LaRoque (R-10) the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) recently weighed in on the matter. In a letter sent to Rep. LaRoque of May 25th, FTC staff outlined its conclusion regarding SB 655/HB 698:

“We are concerned that the Bill may deny consumers of dental services the benefits of competition spurred by the efficiencies…including the potential for lower prices, improved access to care, and greater choice. Underserved communities, such as the 78 of 100 counties in North Carolina that are listed as Dental Health Professional Shortage Areas, may be particularly affected...Therefore, we urge you to consider whether the Bill’s restrictions and grants of regulatory power…are necessary to protect consumers. If not, the North Carolina legislature should reject the Bill.”

The FTC staff comment also explains the redundancy of many provisions in the bill:

"Given that the Board already oversees health and safety issues as part of the licensure regime that governs all dentists in the state...it does not appear that the Bill would enhance the Board's ability to ensure patient safety.”

ATR agrees with the FTC’s assessment of this misguided piece of legislation, which echoes similar critiques made by others, such as the John Locke Foundation. As ATR has already noted, SB 655/HB 698 is a protectionist, anti-free enterprise piece of legislation that seeks to use the power of the state to eliminate competition in the dental industry. Passage of this legislation would result in reduced access to care and increased costs for North Carolinians. With health care costs set rise as a result of the federal tax changes and other policy reforms scheduled to take effect at the end of the year, it would behoove NC legislators to avoid adding insult to injury with policies that raise the cost of dental care.

North Carolinians already contend with increased costs as a result of limited access to dental care. The state currently ranks 47th in the nation in terms of dentists per capita. ATR urges members of the NC House to avoid exacerbating this problem by rejecting SB 655/HB 698.

For a copy of the ATR’s letter on this matter, click here

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ATR Urges North Carolina Legislators to Reject Anti-Free Enterprise Protectionism


Posted by Patrick Gleason on Monday, May 21st, 2012, 4:09 PM PERMALINK


North Carolina is one of the top battleground states for the 2012 election. Ads are already flooding the airwaves from Cape Hatteras to Cashiers and, with the DNC being held in Charlotte, the state is expected to become a political fever pitch over the next few months.

A major topic during the campaign season will be the policies that President Obama has signed into law, such as the 20 tax increases in ObamaCare alone, that will drive up the cost of health care. Indeed, Republicans who hope to pick up three congressional seats in the Tar Heel State will make this a major theme of their campaigns. Yet, in order for North Carolina Republicans to avoid muddling their message and contradicting themselves, Republican state legislators would do well to reject Senate Bill 655, legislation currently pending in the General Assembly that would drive up the cost of dental care for North Carolinians.

Yesterday, Americans for Tax Reform sent the following letter to all members of the North Carolina House, urging them to reject SB 655, legislation that uses the power of government to stifle competition and drive up consumer costs:

 

21 May 2012

Dear legislators,

On behalf of Americans for Tax Reform (ATR), I write today urging you to reject Senate Bill 655. If passed, this bill would add onerous new regulations restricting the ability of dentists in North Carolina to engage in free enterprise and administer their practices more efficiently. Simply put, this bill is an attempt to use the power of the government to eliminate competition. The effects of SB 655 will harm consumers and taxpayers in the state by limiting access to care, restricting competition, increasing costs, destroying jobs and discouraging investment. 

As it stands, North Carolina faces a shortage of dentists, ranking just 47th nationally in dentists per capita, based on data from the American Dental Association (ADA) and US Census Bureau. The result is less access to needed care and higher costs. Dentists in North Carolina earn 25 percent more than the national average according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. This costs North Carolina consumers over $250 million more in additional costs every year, with the effects being the same as that of a hidden tax: increased costs and less disposable income for the citizens of North Carolina. SB 655 would exacerbate these current problems.

Given the rising costs of health care across the United States and the resulting burden on employers and taxpayers, states should look to promote more efficient models of delivering healthcare. SB 655 would prohibit dental practices from contracting with Dental Service Organizations (DSOs), which allow dentists to focus exclusively on providing care, resulting in both high quality care and lower costs for patients.

DSOs do not own dental practices, and the Dental Board already has the regulatory authority required to ensure that all dentists deliver high quality care to their patients, irrespective of how they choose to contract for administrative services. This is a broadly accepted model utilized by many other medical professions, including emergency room physicians, oncologists, anesthesiologists and hospitalists. In a recent statement, the ADA wrote: “States should implement administrative reforms to cut red tape that impedes dentists from delivering care and patients from receiving it.” SB 655 flies in the face of this advice.

As the John Locke Foundation noted in its analysis of SB 655, North Carolina lawmakers “should be looking at ways to expand dental care in North Carolina, not restrict it. If a management company is interested in assuming purchasing, billing and administrative duties and a dentist wants to spend more time on patient care, they ought to be allowed to work out whatever arrangement works best for them.” ATR agrees whole-heartedly with this astute assessment.

While many in the dental industry support SB 655, many other dentists, consumers, taxpayers, employers, and investors in North Carolina would be harmed by this legislation. Rather than consider legislation that stifles competition and drives up consumer costs, North Carolina lawmakers should instead be looking for ways to make the state more economically competitive.  As such, I urge you to oppose SB 655. If you have any questions, please contact ATR’s Patrick Gleason at (202) 785-0266 or pgleason@atr.org.   

Onward,

Grover G. Norquist

President, Americans for Tax Reform

[PDF version]


 

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DC City Council Pushes for Higher Taxes on Consumers


Posted by Patrick Gleason on Thursday, May 3rd, 2012, 3:12 PM PERMALINK


Despite the fact that economists across the political spectrum concede that economic expansion is a more advantageous approach to raising revenue than raising tax rates, some members of the DC City Council are pushing forward with a job-killing tax hike even though Mayor Gray has provided a sensible alternative that would loosen restrictions pertaining to when businesses can stay open and stores can sell alcohol. Instead, Councilman Jim Graham wants to put the screws to the District’s small businesses by hiking the city’s liquor tax. The results of such a hike would be disastrous for employers, consumers, and jobseekers alike.   

Americans for Tax Reform has pointed out the folly of hiking liquor taxes numerous times in the past. In neighboring Maryland, Democrat lawmakers hiked the state’s liquor tax by 50-percent just over a year ago. Despite the rhetoric from proponents of that tax hike, the Maryland Tourism Council pointed out that in July of 2011, the actual revenue generated by Maryland’s alcohol tax increase fell short of projections.

Don’t just take ATR’s word for it. In today’s Washington Times, Michelle Minton of the Competitive Enterprise Institute highlighted the problems that a liquor tax increase would pose for low income workers just trying to make ends meet:

“The tax actually will be assessed on wholesalers in one large sum. The prices that wholesalers charge bars, stores and restaurants subsequently will jump. This initial increase in expenses will hurt the smallest bars and restaurants, which will try to recoup the losses by increasing the costs of their food and drinks.

This means two things: First, people who aren’t even drinking alcohol likely will end up paying for the increase. Second, wait staff and bartenders likely will see their tips shrink. Most customers calculate tips by rounding up - the “keep the change” method. If the cost of a drink increases by 6 cents, customers aren’t likely to alter their tipping math. Thus, the tax is coming almost directly out of the tips on which many service workers depend.”

Councilman Graham cites a need to reduce alcohol consumption as a reason for his tax hike.  Graham doesn’t seem to understand that there is a contradiction in his move to make the District’s budget more reliant on alcohol tax revenue, while also claiming he intends to cut down on alcohol consumption. The same contradictory claims were made when Washington, DC hiked its cigarette tax in 2009. In that instance, revenue not only fell short of projections, tobacco tax revenues came in below pre-hike levels. This was in large part the result of consumers deciding to purchase cigarettes outside the city – most likely in Virginia, where this onerous lifestyle tax is considerably lower.

ATR is encouraging DC residents to contact Councilman Graham and let him know that a tax hike on liquor is the wrong medicine for what ails the District’s budget: overspending. District taxpayers can contact Councilman Graham at (202) 724-8181 or by email at jim@grahamwone.com. Additionally, Graham can be tweeted at @JimGrahamWard1. 

Also, regarding the proposal to permit the sale of liquor on Sunday, the Washington City Paper has listed some reasons as to why the nonsensical prohibition on Sunday sales needs to end.

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North Carolina's Taxpayer Information Act: A Model for the Nation


Posted by Patrick Gleason on Thursday, April 19th, 2012, 2:06 PM PERMALINK


North Carolina has been in the media recently for all the wrong reasons, whether it be the state Democratic Party scandal or the John Edwards trial. It is time for the media and the public to talk about the right reasons that attention should be paid to the Tar Heel State, namely that the state is home to one of the most pro-taxpayer pieces of legislation ever crafted.

The aforementioned legislation is The Taxpayer Information Act (HB 315), and it is the brainchild of NC Speaker Pro Tem and candidate for Lt. Governor, Dale Folwell. The Taxpayer Information Act is about truth in advertising and transparency. The bill, if passed, would require that bond measures disclose to voters not only the debt to be authorized, but the interest that would be incurred on that debt, which taxpayers will ultimately be on the hook for. 

Currently, bond measures only have to disclose how much debt would be authorized. Picture a couple going out to eat at one of their favorite restaurants because it is offering a great $60 dinner for two deal. Yet when they get the check at the end of the night the waiter tells them that they actually owe $90 bucks. When they inquire how this could have happened, they are told that the advertised price did not include gratuity, tax, and some silly environmental charge that the restaurant knew would be assessed the whole time. The couple is right to feel cheated and deceived. Yet the hypothetical restaurant’s deceptive tactics are analogous to those used by proponents of bond proposals not just in North Carolina, but all over the country. The result is voters being fooled into approving new public debt without being told the true cost that taxpayers will be on the hook for.

As Speaker Pro Tem Folwell astutely noted in committee, his bill is about “Trust, and whether the taxpayers who are asked to approve debt deserve to have the same information that the local government commission has, that the bond counsel has, and that underwriters of bonds have.”

Americans for Tax Reform couldn’t agree more. Voters deserve to have the same information that local governments have when they propose bond measures and taxpayers deserve to know how much they would really be on the hook for. Mortgage providers are required to tell borrowers the true cost that they are incurring, both the principal and interest. Taxpayers should expect no less when government seeks to borrow on their behalf.

When the North Carolina General Assembly comes back into session next month, ATR will be urging North Carolina legislators to pass Folwell’s bill, which is currently pending before the House Finance Committee. North Carolina government could use a dose of sunshine, and Speaker Pro Tem Folwell’s bill will provide just that.

The Taxpayer Information Act isn’t just good for North Carolina, it’s a model that every state should follow. As the father of this brilliant pro-taxpayer legislation, Speaker Pro Tem Folwell is a true hero of the taxpayer.

Folwell also happens to be the only taxpayer champion running for Lt. Governor. As it stands, Folwell is the only candidate in the race who has signed the Taxpayer Protection Pledge. In doing so, Folwell is the only candidate in the race who has committed to oppose any and all efforts to raise taxes on hardworking North Carolinians.

With the largest federal tax increase in American history scheduled to hit the Old North State in less than nine short months, North Carolinians need to elect candidates like Speaker Pro Tem Folwell, who put taxpayers, and not spending interests, first. North Carolinians would be hard pressed to do better than to make Speaker Pro Tem Folwell the next Lt. Governor.

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Louisiana Senate Considers Raising 911 Tax


Posted by Patrick Gleason on Tuesday, April 3rd, 2012, 9:47 AM PERMALINK


When ATR sent a letter to Louisiana legislators on the first week of the 2012 session urging them to stand with Gov. Bobby Jindal in opposition to tax increases, The Shreveport Times was dismissive, confidentially proclaiming that “Under the Louisiana Constitution, state lawmakers can't approve tax increases this legislative session.”

An astute commenter on The Times website noted that even though this year is a non-fiscal session, that hasn’t stopped Pelican State lawmakers in Baton Rouge from trying to pass higher levies in the past.

And as it would happen, legislation to raise taxes was introduced on March 12th, the first day of session and four days before The Shreveport Times declared that no tax increases would be taken up this year. SB 361, introduced by Sen. Jean-Paul "JP" Morrell, would impose a substantial increase in the 9-1-1 tax. The bill is projected to raise taxes by $12 million, with all the money earmarked for Orleans Parish Communications District. Some proponents try to claim this is a fee. Not so. Since the district has no separate 9-1-1 fund, this revenue will be available in the parish's general fund for spending completely unrelated to providing 9-1-1 services.

SB 361 was passed out of the Senate Local & Municipal Affairs Committee yesterday and senate floor action on the bill is pending. For a copy of the legislative alert ATR sent to Louisiana legislators, click here.  

For a copy of the aforementioned letter that ATR sent to Louisiana legislators during the first week of session, click here.

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Colorado Senate Considers Legislation to Eliminate Wasteful Subsidies


Posted by Patrick Gleason on Monday, March 19th, 2012, 12:26 PM PERMALINK


The Denver Post’s technology reporter, Andy Vuong, had an article this past weekend on a much-needed piece of legislation that will be taken up today in the Colorado Senate Business, Labor, & Technology Committee, SB 157.

Vuong’s article hilighted a recent report from the state Public Utility Commission that found Colorado state government was wasting millions in taxpayer dollars. The report, according to Vuong, represents the first time that the commission has calculated how many taxpayer-subsidized land lines are in locales that "may no longer be considered high cost to serve.” SB 157, The Telecommunications Modernization Act of 2012, would put an end to government waste and reform these policies and programs that have not, according to Vuong, “been updated to reflect competitive and technological changes in the marketplace.”

SB 157 would also bring relief to Colorado taxpayers at a time when it is most needed. Amid rising gas and food prices, SB 157 would bring down phone bills for Colorado ratepayers by reducing hidden taxes, in addition to phasing out wasteful subsidies and unnecessary taxpayer-funded programs. 

It’s time to bring Colorado’s antiquated communications regulatory and subsidy regime into the modern age. That’s why ATR is urging Colorado lawmakers to do just that by supporting and voting “Aye” on SB 157.

ATR sent the following letter to committee members last week in support of SB 157.

To read Vuong’s piece in its entirety, click here.

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Texas Shows That the Size of Government Matters


Posted by Patrick Gleason on Monday, March 12th, 2012, 4:55 PM PERMALINK


The Texas Public Policy Foundation recently updated a key chart from their 2010 paper, Texas vs. California: Economic Growth Prospects for the 21st Century.

TPPF Vice President of Research Bill Peacock on the chart’s importance:

The chart shows that Texas has much lower government spending as a percentage of the private economy than the U.S. or our largest competitor, California.

In other words, Texas generally imposes a lower spending burden on it citizens, which translates into lower taxes. But a low spending burden isn’t a constant in Texas. The chart also shows that Texas spending burden has increased at certain times. This is certainly the case in 2009, for which our new data shows a sharp uptick in Texas’ spending burden.

Peacock adds:

A state that keeps its taxes low and overregulation at bay is one that fosters economic development. On the other hand, a state that plows its cash into government spending is one whose businesses and citizens will soon be leaving for greener pastures. The state spending burden is perhaps the best measurement to gauge which one of these paths a state is traveling.

ATR encourages folks to visit www.TexasPolicy.com to see more of the great reports and helpful work that TPPF is putting out in the Lone Star State.

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Will Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer's Sales Tax Hike Expire as Scheduled?


Posted by Patrick Gleason on Thursday, March 1st, 2012, 3:11 PM PERMALINK


The untold story about Arizona’s immigration law is that it greased the skids for a tax increase in 2010. Two years ago, Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer was campaigning for a one point, 18%, sales tax increase in the middle of a recession and was facing a host of well-funded and credible primary challengers. Then Brewer signed the now famous immigration bill, SB 1070 (a bill that originally she did not even want sent to her desk), and overnight her approval rating skyrocketed, along with support for the sales tax hike that she staked her reelection campaign on.

While the sales tax increase ended up passing, ATR warned at the time that “temporary” tax increases tend to be not-so-temporary and there would be an effort to extend the rate hike before it expires on May 31st, 2013. And not surprisingly a group is in the process of filing paper work to do just that.

The best thing for the Arizona economy would be to let the increased rate sunset as scheduled. Increased sales taxes disproportionately impact small businesses. As a state that bore the brunt of the burst housing bubble and is struggling through a tepid recovery, the last thing Arizona needs is for small businesses, the engine of job creation, to be hit with a continuation of the Brewer sales tax hike. ATR president Grover Norquist recently noted in California’s Flash Report the disproportionate effect that higher sales taxes have on small businesses.

“PricewaterhouseCoopers conducted a 2004 survey that was the first national measure of retailers’ sales tax compliance costs. The report found that retailers with less than $1,000,000 in annual sales were burdened with sales tax compliance costs in excess of 13 percent. Meanwhile, retailers with income between $1,000,000 and $10,000,000 saw average compliance costs less than six percent and retailers with more than $10,000,000 in sales had compliance costs that were less than three percent on average.” 

While an extension of the Brewer tax hike would be misguided at any time, it would be even more harmful in light of the fact that the largest federal tax increase in U.S. history will hit individuals, families, and employers in Arizona in less than 10 months. The changes scheduled to take effect on January 1st, 2013 include higher income tax rates, higher taxes on marriage and family, a middle class death tax, higher tax rates on savers and investors, employer tax hikes, and twenty new or higher taxes in ObamaCare alone. In less than 30 days, the U.S. will have the highest corporate tax rate in the world.

Arizona’s state & local tax burden jumped from 9th to 3rd highest in the country as a result of the Brewer tax hike. It’s time to let it expire, as Gov. Brewer herself said it should.

What do you think, will Gov. Brewer keep her word and vocally oppose efforts to extend the sales tax increase? Time will tell.

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ATR to Massachusetts Legislators: Vote "NO" on Gov. Patrick's soda tax


Posted by Patrick Gleason on Wednesday, February 8th, 2012, 10:14 AM PERMALINK


January 26, 2012


Massachusetts Senate
Massachusetts House of Representatives


Dear Legislator,

Gov. Patrick’s plan for balancing the Massachusetts budget is incorrectly focused on revenue, rather than the real problem - overspending. The governor’s new executive budget is chock-full of tax increases that will adversely impact the state’s economy. One of the most egregious examples is Gov. Patrick’s proposal for a soda tax hike, which applies the state’s 6.25% sales tax to soda and other sweetened drinks.

Soda taxes have already proven to be ineffective and bad policy. As such, both Washington and Maine recently repealed failed taxes on soda. I encourage you to look to the experiences of these states as a cautionary tale.

Gov. Patrick is trying to sell this idea under the auspices of an obesity prevention initiative. In reality, soda taxes do not necessarily decrease an individual’s caloric intake. They are nothing more than a shameless cash grab that puts off necessary spending reforms. According to a recent study by the Tax Foundation, consumers will likely substitute other food and drink to make up for the discrepancy in their diet when they discontinue soda consumption due to higher prices. Thus, decreased soda consumption does not necessarily mean a healthier population in Massachusetts.

Singling out soda, when many factors contribute to obesity, is an ill-advised use of government power that needlessly restricts citizens’ freedom of choice. This tax falls on all consumers, not just the ones who consume in excess. No one should have to incur higher prices from a nanny state to curb their consumption, particularly perfectly healthy individuals who enjoy soda and other sweetened drinks.

Gov. Patrick’s justification of the soda tax does not cite the facts. In his budget recommendations, the governor claims that soda consumption is on the rise. This statement is simply untrue. The aforementioned Tax Foundation study shows that soda consumption actually decreased in recent years. Between 1998 and 2010, soda consumption per capita fell by 16%.

Worse, the soda tax proposal is also a job-killer. Massachusetts is home to Polar Beverages, a major employer, which will be negatively affected if this tax is enacted. In this tepid economic recovery, jobs are at a premium. Gov. Patrick’s friends in the White House have recently emphasized the need to promote domestic manufacturing, yet this proposed soda tax would reduce the job-creating capacity of beverage manufacturers in the Commonwealth. Targeting these manufacturers with discriminatory taxes harms their ability to hire and maintain current employment levels.

As you work through the budget process, I encourage you to focus on cutting the fat in government, rather than the waistlines of individuals. There is plenty of room to cut. I know it irritates some lawmakers when ATR says that the government has a spending problem and not a revenue problem, but that statement is supported by the facts. From 1999 to 2009, the Massachusetts budget grew by 31%. If spending was limited to the growth in population and inflation during that period, the Bay State would have spent $44 billion less. To prevent future budget shortfalls, ATR encourages Massachusetts lawmakers to pass a spending cap in 2012 that will keep government spending in line with population and inflation.
Please look to ATR as a resource on this issue. If you have any questions, please contact ATR’s Patrick Gleason at 202-785-0266 or pgleason@atr.org.

Onward,


Grover G. Norquist

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ATR to Massachusetts Legislators: Vote "NO" on Gov. Patrick's tobacco tax


Posted by Patrick Gleason on Wednesday, February 8th, 2012, 10:08 AM PERMALINK


February 2, 2012


Massachusetts Senate
Massachusetts House of Representatives


Dear Legislator,

I write you today regarding Gov. Patrick’s proposed budget. A particularly misguided aspect of the
governor’s executive budget is the bevy of lifestyle tax increases that will adversely impact the state’s
economy, hurt small businesses and, frankly, serve as an unnecessary annoyance that Bay State
residents will remember as they head to the voting booths later this year. Two of the most
egregious examples are the excise tax hikes called for on cigarettes and other tobacco products –
Gov. Patrick’s proposal would increase taxes on cigarettes in Massachusetts by $.50, bringing the
tax rate to an astounding $3.01 per pack and apply the heightened cigarette tax rate to all other
tobacco products, costing taxpayers $72.9 million next year.

Excise taxes have repeatedly been proven ineffective and bad policy that kills jobs and drives
business across state lines. Jobs are at a premium amid this tepid economic recovery, yet Gov.
Patrick’s proposed tax increases are sure to reduce the job-creating capacity of small business
owners across the Commonwealth by forcing commerce across state lines. It should be noted that
taxes on cigarettes in neighboring Vermont and New Hampshire are considerably lower than the
proposed rate. Gov. Patrick should look to South Carolina, Washington, D.C., and Chicago’s
recent experiences with cigarette excise tax increases. These cautionary tales demonstrate that
consumers are not deterred by a short drive if onerous lifestyle taxes are lower in a nearby state, as
evidenced by Massachusetts’ own Sen. Rodrigues, who made news for crossing state lines to buy
alcohol in New Hampshire.

South Carolina added $.57 to each pack of cigarettes in July 2010. Despite the rate increase, records
show a decline in cigarette tax revenue in South Carolina since that time, while neighboring states
saw growth. Neighboring Georgia saw a net increase in cigarette sales of nearly 1.3 million packs in
the six months after South Carolina raised its excise tax rate. Washington, D.C. raised its cigarette
tax by $.50 in 2009 only to see an 11 percent net decline in cigarette tax revenue as consumers
flocked to neighboring states with a low tax rate on cigarettes like Virginia. When Cook County,
which encompasses the city of Chicago, increased its cigarette tax by $1 in 2006, Chicagoans
flocked to neighboring Indiana to make their purchases. Following that tax hike, The Huffington
Post reported a team of University of Illinois-Chicago researchers collected a sample of discarded
cigarette packs. According to their study, 75 percent of the discarded packs came from outside
Cook County. Massachusetts, given its geography, can expect similarly dubious results if lawmakers
on Beacon Hill elect to raise tobacco taxes.

Gov. Patrick is trying to sell this tax hike under the auspices of a tobacco use mitigation initiative.
Yet, scientific research shows that Gov. Patrick’s tobacco tax increases could be detrimental to
public health. By taxing other tobacco products (OTP) at the same increased rate as cigarettes,
Gov. Patrick is perpetuating the egregious misconception that use of smokeless tobacco is as
harmful as smoking. A 2011 analysis of data from the International Tobacco Control four-country
survey shows that more than 85 percent of U.S. smokers do not believe there is less risk associated
with smokeless tobacco than cigarettes. In actuality, risks associated with the use of smokeless
tobacco are significantly lower than cigarettes. The anti-smoking campaign brands nicotine the
culprit, when the most significant risk associated with smoking is the smoke inhaled. The
aforementioned ITC study shows that only about half of smokers correctly reported that nicotine is
not the chemical in cigarettes that causes cancer. Nicotine is addictive, but it poses no serious health
risks. Thus, the use of smokeless tobacco is proven to be a safer alternative to smoking. Smokeless
tobacco has similar nicotine levels as cigarettes, but is 98 percent safer – smokeless tobacco poses
no risk for emphysema, lung cancer, or heart disease. Though there is still a risk for mouth cancer,
it is significantly lower than smoking. A study by the American College of Chest Physicians shows
the overall mortality among snus users, a form of smokeless tobacco, was the same as nonusers of
tobacco.

A study by Brad Rodu, Professor of Medicine at the University of Louisville, demonstrates that the
use of smokeless tobacco is as an effective substitute for cigarettes, yielding tobacco harm
reduction. Sweden, the only country to meet the World Health Organization’s 2000 target for
reducing smoking to less than 20 percent, saw a significant decrease in smoking as the use of
smokeless tobacco increased according to the study conducted on white males. Rodu also saw a
corollary decrease in smoking attributable diseases.

Though using other low risk forms of tobacco could help smokers quit and lower overall
healthcare costs, Gov. Patrick’s budget ignores the science and raises the cost of products that are
proven to be safer alternatives to smoking. Adult smokers need to know the truth so they can make
informed decisions about their health. The false claims used by Gov. Patrick and proponents of
higher taxes on smokeless tobacco only perpetuate scientific falsehoods and serve to keep the
public misinformed.

As you work through the budget process, I encourage you to focus on cutting the fat in
government, rather than trying to control the personal choices of your constituents through
misguided lifestyle taxes. I know it irritates some lawmakers when ATR says that the government
has a spending problem and not a revenue problem, but that statement is supported by the facts.
From 1999 to 2009, the Massachusetts budget grew by 31 percent. If spending was limited to the
growth in population and inflation during that period, the Massachusetts government would have
spent $44 billion less. To prevent future budget shortfalls, ATR encourages Massachusetts
lawmakers to pass a spending cap in 2012 that will keep government spending in line with
population and inflation. Please look to ATR as a resource on this issue. If you have any questions,
please contact ATR’s Patrick Gleason at 202-785-0266 or pgleason@atr.org.

Onward,

Grover G. Norquist

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