The Tobacco Tax Is No Sin

Extending adequate health care to millions of uninsured and underinsured Americans will cost upwards of $40 billion a year, and President Clinton and Hillary Rodham Clinton clearly favor a big boost in the federal cigarette tax. Startled by reports that the tax could go up by $2 per pack--on top of the current 24 a pack--the tobacco industry lost no time in arguing that any such increase would be unfair to the more than 40 million Americans who smoke. The tax would be highly regressive: It would hit with greatest force those people who are least able to afford it, low-income Americans. But the benefits that it might yield, for national health as well as federal finances, well outweigh that burden.

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