New Hampshire: Smoke More, Or We'll Hike Your Taxes!

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Here's the headline: "Tobacco Retailers Pressed to Sell More to Stop Tax Hike." Odd isn't it? New Hampshire retailers are in a panic, hoping to sell enough cigarettes to avoid a quarter cigarette tax increase from taking effect. Last year grocers lobbied hard against an increase in the state's cigarette tax, saying that they "could bring in the same revenues if given a chance to market the state's lower cigarette prices to neighboring states." Lawmakers heard their pleas and agreed to put the tax increase on hold to see if sufficient revenues were raised. In fact, a marketing campaign was said to be in the works.

You'd have to be living under a rock to not know that smoking can kill, but New Hampshire residents are being encouraged to purchase more cigarettes. Meanwhile, legislators cannot take action to improve health by discouraging smoking because they depend on this tax revenue to fund necessary services. This is what happens when states depend on excise taxes that don't grow with the economy and refuse to raise money in progressive ways. The government is placed in the odd position of encouraging whatever is being taxed, even if it's harmful.

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