Madison and Wisconsin Smokers

Doyle and the dems in Madison seem to think that after they’ve already punched smokers in the gut and brought them to their knees, they can push them to the ground and keep on kicking until they bleed.  On the 18th of May Doyle signed the Wisconsin smoking ban which would prohibit smoking in “public places, including restaurants, taverns, and other indoor workplaces”.

As if that’s not bad enough, now in Doyle’s budget is a 75cent per pack tax increase on cigarettes:

If passed, the 75-cent increase proposed by the Governor’s Budget Bill would be on top of the $1-per-pack increase implemented in January 2008 and the 62-cent federal increase that went into effect in April 2009. These recent increases have one-fifth of Wisconsinites paying an additional $16.20 in cigarette taxes with every carton purchased.

As this recent report says, that’s a 308% tax increase in less than 18 months on cigarettes.  Specifically, they highlight five negative outcomes that could come about because of these taxes.

• Revenue projections from the tax will not be met.

Doyle has a $6.6billion budget shortfall.  He refuses to cut spending so he will just try and raise taxes on everything in sight.  What better way to recoup losses than a slaughtered animal tax and a quintupling of the beer tax!  Brilliant.  If one tax isn’t working just impose another tax right beside it.  Rinse and repeat.

• Cigarette excise taxes are an unreliable, declining and unstable funding source and raising the tax is bad public policy.

• Cigarette excise taxes are regressive in nature, targeting low-income consumers who are least able to pay.

The percentage of low-income smokers is around 28%(or so I’ve read).  Most will continue to smoke, but a good chunk of them simply will not pay anymore.  Retailers could see a significant drop in customers.  Just a week or so ago I saw an older lady around 60 or so buy a carton of cigarettes at the local Kwik Trip for over $100.  I was stunned.  A lot of the poorer simply will quit and then a big portion of that tax revenue is lost, opening the door for other tax increases as seen above.

• Smokers will turn to border states, the Internet and other outlets, negatively affecting Wisconsin retailers.

Why buy in Wisconsin when the cigarette tax in Illinois is 50% less?  The E-cigarette available on the internet is also seeing a huge boost in sales, with the help of a talker or two on the radio.

• Crime rates will rise along with the tax increase, creating more smuggling and black markets as well as an increase in retail theft.

Ah yes, the black market.  Eventually we will be seeing crackdowns on people growing their own tobacco.

Promote these points all you want and the only response will be, “Smoking is bad for you, so you shouldn’t smoke.  This will make people healthier.”  It is the old “unintended consequences” rule.  They’re trying to do something good for the state, so no one frown upon the effort.  Jim “I will not raise taxes” Doyle does not have the best interests of Wisconsin on his mind.  He and the dems in Madison are using taxes and legislation to impose a way of life onto Wisconsinites under the guise of healthiness.  I am trying to get my friends to care about this, but it’s tough.  This is also my first diary.