In today's NY Post the paper editorializes against Mayor Bloomberg's efforts to raise the cigarette tax once again. Not content with his 1800% increase in 2002, the mayor wants to add another 50 cents a pack. Of course he uses his health concerns as a premise and cites the "evidence" that higher cig taxes led to less underage smoking.
Maybe its time for the mayor to experience a reality check. He could dress up in undercover garb just like Rudy Giuliani once did and surreptitiously walk the commercial strips of the South Bronx and East New York and simply observe the impunity with which buttleggers are peddling their wares. We think he might also discover that these illegal peddlers are not scrupulous in their observance of the underage smoking laws.
We'd also like to see a non-partisan study of the so-called correlation between taxes and smoking cessation. It has been our view all along that if illegal smokes are available because we have elected officials who simply won't enforce the tax laws against the Indians, or for that matter increase the penalties against smuggling rings, than increasing this tax only serves to penalize store owners who depend on the income.
Of course everyone looks down on these shopkeepers for "profiteering" with a deadly product, while at the same time overlooking the fact the biggest profiteer in these sales is government at all levels. Which is why we will be holding a small business press conference this Thursday, keynoted by Councilman Oliver Koppell, that will announce our united opposition to the mayor's new tax and, at the same time, insist that whatever one’s position on the cigarette tax no increase should be entertained until after the governor enforces the law against Indian retailers.