Friday, March 10, 2006

Smoke and Taxes

The city has released another survey that documents the dramatic decline in youth smoking. Once again the mayor is crediting his cigarette tax increase as a major reason for the good news. What this overlooks of course is the fact that, as the NY Times points out this morning, "...the declines were also reflective of nationwide trends showing that teenagers are increasingly shunning smoking."

It is also important to emphasize the undeniable reality of the black market in cigarettes that in all likelihood is skewing the results of the city's survey. This phenomenon makes it easier for the youth of the city to avoid the higher prices that the mayor credits for lowering the number of youthful smokers.

In fact the city's health commissioner, Dr. Thomas Frieden, has himself pointed out that the black market is the one major obstacle in the way of a fully successful campaign against youth smoking. This is why the mayor's continued call for higher cigarette taxes, while Indian retailers are hawking non-taxed smokes with impunity, makes no sense.

The Alliance is poised to join with others in the fight against this problem and the litigation is likely to be launched next week. The tax payers and small businesses of this city and state are being hosed and we're hopeful that Bloomberg and Frieden will join with us in support of the effort to close this unconscionable loophole.