The NY excise tax increase is now considered the highest excise tax imposed by a state on cigarettes and tobaccos (NCSL 2010 p. 2). Opponents of the tax increase argue that it is inherently regressive because it affects the ‘have-nots’ more than it does the ‘haves.’ Furthermore, these increases are said to be defeating their purpose, which is to raise revenues, because they can drive away potential customers who may altogether quit smoking or who may use backdoor sources to obtain their fix. On the other hand, proponents of the tax measure, specifically the legislators, contend that it will help keep New York sustain and maintain its health care programs (Confessore 2010). The biggest argument, however, for the measure comes from health advocates and researchers who are extolling the tax increase as a vehicle for compelling smokers to quit the habit and ultimately saving more lives.
If I were a member of the New York Legislature, I too, would have supported and voted for the passage of the latest round of excise tax increases on cigarettes and tobacco because it will ultimately redound to the good and welfare of the public. First, it is good for the public health because of the possibility of reducing smoking prevalence especially of the young, who are unwilling or unable to shoulder the rising cost of the habit, and; second, if it could not compel a significant number of smokers to quit, then the government will get to achieve its purpose of raising revenues to fund its health-related programs.
That smoking is deadly not only to the person smoking but also to the people around him is already an established fact. This is evinced by the 1998 Tobacco Master Settlement Agreement (MAS) where top tobacco and cigarette producers agreed to compensate, in perpetuity, billions of dollars to a considerable number of states for the costs expended by the latter in the care of individuals suffering from smoking-related illnesses (A Broken Promise to our