Smokers shouldn’t be fuming over new tax

By Editorial Board

Just when it seemed the economy couldn’t get any worse, Illinois smokers are facing yet another financial hurdle by choosing to light up.

In a state that already boasts the highest sales tax, Illinois legislators implemented a cigarette tax increase on April 1, adding $1 on packs of cigarettes, cigars and cans of chewing tobacco.

Lawmakers are hoping the dramatic rise in cost will deter smokers from giving in to their addiction.

After hearing about the tax increase, many smokers felt targeted—some even felt victimized. But the real truth is, a law like this couldn’t come at a better time, especially with the current economic state.

While it may be a bit unrealistic for lawmakers to expect smokers to quit completely, the steep price of cigarettes (almost $10 a pack in Chicago with the increase) will certainly have many thinking about how frequently they smoke—which can’t be a bad thing.

State legislators plan to use the tax increase money toward funding for health care in an effort to aid in the state’s Medicaid debt.

And before smokers use the argument that they feel targeted and that other bad habits should be taxed, one thing needs to be kept in mind: Smoking is a choice.

While it’s true that taxes like these can be a nuisance, it’s hard to argue that this particular tax increase won’t provide a new incentive for smokers who are ready to quit

Despite whether Illinois decided to go through with the tax increase, a significant number of people would be upset either way—it’s part of the grandeur of being a lawmaker.

Though the state could certainly do a better job of outlining exactly where the tax increase money will go, the law’s main goal is to help people maintain a healthier lifestyle.

Because, truly, when all research is said and done, the only way to stop paying higher cigarette taxes is to go through with the obvious—stop smoking.