Skip to comments.Hidden Brain: How Cigarette Taxes Affect Food Buying (NPR)
Posted on 07/26/2017 11:50:33 AM PDT by Drango
A new study shows a connection between cigarette taxes and food stamps. When cigarette taxes go up, smokers end up spending more of their income on cigarettes and that leaves less money for food.
STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:
We have news of an unintended effect of sin taxes - you know, taxes on alcohol or cigarettes. Lawmakers reluctant to raise any other taxes do raise those, which seems so worthy - discouraging bad habits or doing something else. NPR social science correspondent Shankar Vedantam is here. Hi, Shankar.
SHANKAR VEDANTAM, BYLINE: Hi, Steve.
INSKEEP: What happens instead in some cases?
VEDANTAM: Well, in some cases, people do quit or smoke less or cross state lines to buy cheaper cigarettes across other jurisdictions.
VEDANTAM: But many people simply pay more to keep smoking. I was speaking with Kyle Rozema. He's an economist at the University of Chicago. And he said that especially for low-income people, the burden can be very high.
(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)
KYLE ROZEMA: High taxes on cigarettes can create financial burdens for low-income households. Take a pack-a-day smoker who makes minimum wage. In the most expensive state in the U.S. - right now, New York - a pack-a-day smoker will spend 30 percent of their income on cigarettes throughout the year. So high taxes can create financial burdens and they can crowd out other expenditures.
INSKEEP: Thirty percent of their income on cigarettes?
VEDANTAM: I mean, it's an astonishing number, Steve. Now, because smokers are spending so much more money on cigarettes, this might mean they have less money for other things, including essentials like food.
INSKEEP: Food, meaning that they might go hungry as a result of this?
VEDANTAM: Exactly. And, in fact, that's where the new research comes in. Rozema and his colleague Nicolas Ziebarth analyzed survey research tracking smoking and non-smoking households. They found something very interesting. State and local jurisdictions that increase cigarette taxes see more households begin to apply for food stamps.
(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)
ROZEMA: For the average increase of 56 cents, roughly 7 percent of smoking households who are eligible for food stamps but weren't enrolled respond by taking up food stamps.
INSKEEP: Wait. How do they know that people who smoke are more likely to be on food stamps?
VEDANTAM: There's two ways to test this, Steve. First of all, not all areas of the country raised cigarette taxes, so what the researchers find is it's only in areas that raised cigarette taxes where there's this increase in food stamp usage. And secondly, we see this increase only among smoking households and not among non-smoking households, both of which point to the idea that higher cigarette taxes are leading to increased food stamp usage.
INSKEEP: OK. So I'm trying to figure this out. You've got this addictive behavior. It's very hard to stop. It can be expensive to stop, as a matter of fact. You have people who pay this high state tax but don't have a lot of income so they end up claiming a federal benefit.
VEDANTAM: That's right. Cigarette taxes are largely imposed by state and local jurisdictions but people are claiming a benefit that's largely from the federal government. In some ways, you know, you're robbing Peter to pay Paul.
INSKEEP: It's a revenue transfer.
VEDANTAM: It's a revenue transfer. I mean, Rozema actually said one thing that could be happening is that smokers are saying, the government is taking more money from me, let me take something more from the government.
INSKEEP: Shankar, thanks very much.
VEDANTAM: Thanks, Steve.
INSKEEP: That's NPR's Shankar Vedantam, another habit that's been difficult for us to break. He joins us regularly to talk about social science research. He's also the host of the podcast Hidden Brain.
Those dammed human beings just wont behave the way the selfappointed masters want.
Heroin and meth addicts spend about 90% of their income on their addiction.
These guys are reg’lar Sherlock Holmes, no?
They raise tobacco taxes to confiscatory levels, and then sort of allow that gee, people have less money for food? Ya think? What a bunch of wankers.
Jerry Brown of California thinks gasoline is also subject to a ‘sin tax’ as he just announced higher taxes on it to ‘save the planet’- He’s shooting for a ‘carbon free society’ because he thinks it’;s a sin to burn fossil fuels
You could probably end excise taxes on booze and smokes by taking it to court and demonstrating it disproportionately affects minorities.
p.s. What does someone who smokes and drinks a lot do on the weekend? - suck a few butts and get sh*tfaced.
“The Hidden Brain”, pounds like the title of a Class B, Horror Film from the 1960 period.
Smokers would rather buy that pack of smokes for $8 than a steak for $6.
The voters, not the governor, approved the new $2 per pack on cigarettes.
doesn’;t matter who- We’re talking about ‘sin taxes’ and the excuses used to force people to comply or suffer- whether it’s self righteous voters or a self righteous gov- they pick and choose their favorite ‘sins’ to extort money from the people with-
I bought a used Lincoln Mark 8 with working air, new Michelins and a gorgeous interior with just 100k miles on it for $2200. My renter last year spent over $2600 for cigarettes. He is terrified about his health since a close relative died recently from COPT. He wants to quit and I hooked him up with the county health department, which has a free program. Also, they have a 24 hour smokers hotline. The whole time we were talking, he lit one cigarette from the butt of another. The chances he will quit, at age 34, are about zero. He desperately needs to spend the money on other necessities, like getting his license back from two DUI’s, a vehicle and God only knows what the insurance will cost. The guy will be permanently poor. (No, I doubt the programs will work. You can see it in his eyes.)
Incidentally, I found out from a world traveler that US market cigarettes are illegal in the EU because they have addition enhancers. The same brand cigarette, say, Marlboro, in Europe will taste different. “A US smoker wouldn’t like them,” he said.
More money wasted on a study to find out what even the most simple minded can figure for themselves.
How many dope smokers, crack heads, alcoholics and other addicts do you personally know who gave up their addictions because of a price increase?
But, but, but...it's not addiction, it's a habit.
Liberal love taxes that penalize the poor and the near poor.
Why—because that is the kind of tax that creates new tax-payers!
Cost does not make a dent in the craving, it only means that family budget cuts must be elsewhere made.
Sad that Dems ruin so many lives with their social experiments.
When the government is willing to subsidize their habit eoth food stamps?
Disclaimer: Opinions posted on Free Republic are those of the individual posters and do not necessarily represent the opinion of Free Republic or its management. All materials posted herein are protected by copyright law and the exemption for fair use of copyrighted works.