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Soaking the poor: House tax hikes continue

Last week the New Hampshire House of Representatives voted to raise the gas tax by $1 billion. On Wednesday the House is set to follow that with a 20-cent increase in the tobacco tax. If you believed that Democrats just wanted to raise taxes on "the rich," you have been misled.

New York State has the highest cigarette tax in the nation. A study commissioned by the New York Department of Health last year found that the high taxes did not discourage smoking among low-income smokers, ABC News reported last September. Rather, the poor just paid more - as much as a quarter of their income - for cigarettes. The study's author concluded that "low-income smokers are disproportionately burdened by these taxes."

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found in 2011 that "(s)moking prevalence generally decreased with increasing education and was higher among adults living below the poverty level (28.9%) than among those at or above the poverty level (18.3%)." That is, cigarette taxes fall disproportionately upon the poor.

The Department of Revenue Administration estimates that House Bill 659 would raise between $6.7 million and $11.9 million. The bill does not earmark those funds for smoking-cessation programs. So the bill would raise taxes on the poor and middle class to fund the general government. Again, this comes just one week after the House voted to hit everyone with a $1 billion gas tax hike, which would hurt low-income drivers the most. If you smoke and drive and you voted for Democrats in November because you wanted to "soak the rich," the joke's on you, pal.

Eric Church
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