In a shocking display of callousness towards low income Americans, it was revealed tonight that one of the many ways Congressional Democrats plan to pay for their overspending is to slug the poorest and most vulnerable members of society with a staggering $96 billion dollar tax hike. To make matters even worse, not only is this a clear and blatant breach of President Biden’s promise to not raise taxes on persons earning under $400,000, academic modeling has shown that this proposal would lead to an extra 2.75 million Americans continuing to smoke deadly combustible cigarettes – with deadly consequences.

Small increases in projected revenue should never come at the expense of human lives. 

According to leaked documents, Congressional Democrats plan to double the Federal tobacco tax. Not only has data from National Adult Tobacco Surveys consistently demonstrated that increasing tobacco taxes no longer has ANY impact on smoking rates, 72% of smokers are from low-income communities. To increase taxes on people unable to quit as they are struggling with the costs of the Covid-19 pandemic will put unnecessary hardship on families who are already struggling to make ends meet. Even former President Obama remarked when he was in office: “The last thing you want to do is raise taxes in the middle of a recession because that would just suck up, take more demand out of the economy and put businesses in a further hole.” Yet this proposal flies in the face of that sage advice from the 44th President.

In fact, evidence shows that the only impact cigarette tax increases have is to lead to a boom for criminal syndicates selling illicit black market tobacco products.  Contrary to popular belief that tobacco smuggling is a victimless crime, most tobacco smuggling is run by multi-million-dollar organized crime syndicates. These networks, who also engage in human trafficking & money laundering, have also been used to fund terrorist and the US State Department has explicitly called tobacco smuggling a “threat to national security”.  As a result, tobacco tax increases almost never reach the projected revenue goals: Only three out of 32 state tobacco increases studied met tax revenue estimates.

But that’s only the start of it: To make matters worse, Congressional Democrats also plan to tax people who try to save their lives by quitting smoking through the use of reduced risk tobacco alternatives. Electronic cigarettes have been proven to be at least 95% safer than combustible cigarettes, and between 3 and 7 times more effective than traditional nicotine replacement therapies. For this reason they have been endorsed by over 50 of the world’s leading public health organizations as safer than smoking and an effective way to help smokers quit. A large-scale analysis from the US’s top cancer researches coordinated by Georgetown University Medical Center found that 6.6 million American lives can be saved if a majority of cigarette smokers switched to vaping.

Rather than follow international best practices and encourage smokers to quit through using these lifesaving alternatives to cigarettes, Congressional Democrats appear to want to instead penalize and tax them for doing so. It should be obvious that when something becomes more expensive, fewer people engage in that practice. This is why the National Bureau of Economic Research  studied Minnesota’s tax on vaping products and determined that the tax prevented 32,400 additional adult smokers from quitting smoking. Additionally, they found “consistent and robust evidence” that taxes on e-cigarettes increase smoking rates, decrease smoking cessation, and lead to more tobacco-related deaths. Researches then modeled the impact of the proposed e-cigarette tax if enacted nationally, determining it would deter some 2.75 million smokers from quitting. Yet that is what is currently been proposed.

If enacted, this proposal will not only hurt low income Americans, damage businesses already doing it tough, and be a boon to international criminal syndicates. As well as this, rather than reduce smoking rates, it would increase them and lead to a staggering 2.75 million more Americans smoking – and dying – as a result.

To condemn millions of Americans to death just to help pay for political pet projects is unconscionable. Everyone who believes in public health, sound public policy, and the fundamental rights of Americans to help save their own lives, should oppose this with every fiber of their being.