There is ample evidence that cigarettes are a dubious and declining source of revenue. Evidence from nearly every state that has unfairly targeted smokers for more revenue shows that very few cigarette tax hikes actually meet their revenue goals. When New Jersey raised the cigarette tax 17.5 cents in 2007 they expected to bring in an additional $30 million. Not only did New Jersey not meet that target, the Garden State ended up with a net loss of $24 million in total tax revenue from tobacco. Further demonstrating this deleterious effect, Maryland doubled the cigarette tax to $2 last year and cigarette sales dropped 25%, falling considerably short of projections.  

Despite this, the Florida Senate recently passed its version of the budget which included a $2 billion tobacco tax increase, in the middle of a recession no less. Furthermore, this burden would be borne by Floridians who can least afford it.To make matters worse, President Obama recently signed into law a new 61-cent hike in the federal cigarette tax, breaking one of his central campaign promises in the process. 

However, the Florida House has done the right thing and left the Senate’s cash grab out of their budget. ATR sent a letter today to all members of the Florida House of Representatives urging them to hold the line against the Senate tax hikes when this debate goes to conference.

For a pdf copy of ATR’s letter, Click Here.