Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Smoking on the Rise

The NY Daily News is reporting today that there is an increase in the percentage of New Yorkers who are smoking after a two year period of decline. Health Commissioner Frieden is using this increase to once again call on the state legislature to pass the city's proposed 50 cents a pack increase.

This is not a great idea since the level of illegal street sales has continued unabated and the Indian retail loophole is still in place. Interestingly, Congressman Charlie Rangel has weighed in against any new cigarette tax since he feels that it "unfairly targets the poor." Let's close the loophole, eliminate as much as possible the high level of street sales, and then a more rational debate about taxing cigarettes might make more sense.