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posted: 5/19/2013 5:00 AM

Cigarettes not an easy tax source

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As government tries to keep going and possibly to expand service, it needs revenue. However, broadly raising taxes is politically risky, so the slogan is always, "Don't tax you. Don't tax me. Tax the guy behind the tree."

Increasingly the guy behind the tree is the cigarette smoker.

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Down to 19 percent of the adult population, from a bare majority during the "Mad Men" days, smokers tend to be low income and unregistered to vote.

One of the few taxes raised in Obama's first term is that one, and few Republicans specifically called him out on it.

The number of smokers, and likely the cigarettes each one smokes, goes down each year, and higher taxes accelerate the trend. The tax has to go up just to keep revenues steady, and the fact that just about all levels of taxing bodies are hitting this source aggravates it.

It probably won't be long before they are up to $20 a pack, yes, a dollar a butt. And revenue about the same as now. I don't imply government should quit taxing cigarettes. Smokers are too addicted already. But don't try to tell taxpayers it is an easy revenue source.

Peter Vandemotter

Mundelein

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