A new study shows low-income smokers in New York spend 25 percent of their income on cigarettes, a finding that led Citizens Lobbying Against Smoker Harassment (C.L.A.S.H.), an advocacy group, to say the study showed that cigarette taxes were punitive and “undeniably regressive.” Criticizing those in government who oppose smoking and support increased taxes on cigarettes, they argue, “It busts their theory that high taxes equal submission to their coercive measure.”
We couldn’t disagree more with C.L.A.S.H. High cigarette taxes are not punitive; in fact, they save lives. New York’s high cigarette tax is just one part of comprehensive strategy that has successfully reduced smoking rates, well below the national rate. Our strategy also includes hard-hitting educational media, increased prevention and cessation programs, and strong public policy.