Letter: Tobacco tax corrupt

By The Daily Illini

I was somewhat concerned about the opinions expressed in Thursday’s paper by Brett Hapeman of Colleges Against Cancer about Gov. Blagojevich’s proposed 75-cent cigarette tax increase. Hapeman claims – quite correctly – that the proposed tax will prevent, by financial means, the creation of new smokers. Let me be clear: There are few things that irritate me more than watching my fellow humans kill themselves and those around them by smoking. I must protest, however, that it ought not to be the purpose of a tax to prevent or reduce the consumption of a good or service.

It is clear that the government has the obligation to acquire sufficient funds to administer the government and that excise taxes are a necessary tool, but it ought not to have the right to hijack the system of taxation to promote any particular social value. Indeed, if the people are willing to accept a tax on cigarettes, is there any reason why the government could not next impose a tax on foods contributing to obesity, a possibly even greater health threat?

I would welcome a statewide or national debate on health-related issues including the possibility of increased regulation of cigarettes. To skip this debate, however, in favor of implementing a solution to the health issues “in the name of generating revenue” is, at best, irresponsible to community voices that have meaningful opinions on this subject and, at worst, an outright corruption of the tax system.

Dan Parente

senior in engineering

Get The Daily Illini in your inbox!

  • Catch the latest on University of Illinois news, sports, and more. Delivered every weekday.
  • Stay up to date on all things Illini sports. Delivered every Monday.
This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.
Thank you for subscribing!