Skip Navigation

Alcohol & Tobacco

Alcohol & Tobacco
December 15, 2016
Alcohol Regulation Reforms on Tap for Pennsylvania
Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf (D) signed a bill reforming the state government’s restrictions on alcohol sales, allowing consumers to purchase six-packs of beer at privately owned alcohol distributors, such as gas stations.
Alcohol & Tobacco
December 12, 2016
PRESS RELEASE: Heartland Institute Experts React to Surgeon General’s Report on E-cigarettes and Young People
U.S. Surgeon General Vivek H. Murthy released a report last week stating the growing use of e-cigarettes among young people “is now a major public health concern.” Murphy recommended the Food and Drug Administration put regulations into effect immediately
Alcohol & Tobacco
December 3, 2016
California Cigarette Tax Hike to Take Effect in April
A new cigarette tax approved by California voters in November 2016 will take effect on April 1, 2017, increasing the state’s excise tax on tobacco cigarettes from 87 cents to $2.87 and adding new tobacco-related taxes to e-cigarettes.
More News
Alcohol & Tobacco
November 14, 2016
Colorado Voters Snuff Out Huge Tobacco Tax Hike
Colorado voters rejected a proposition on the November 2016 ballot asking for a massive tax increase on cigarettes sold in the state.
Alcohol & Tobacco
November 10, 2016
County Lawmakers Approve E-Cigarette Ban in Washington State
Lawmakers in Whatcom County, Washington voted to prohibit e-cigarette use on all government-owned property in the county, as well as in privately owned businesses, such as bars, workplaces, and restaurants.
Alcohol & Tobacco
October 14, 2016
Big Tobacco Tax Hike Goes to Colorado Voters for Approval
Colorado voters will vote on a proposition on the November ballot that would, if passed, impose a huge tax increase on cigarettes sold in the state.
 

The Issue

State governments are attracted to sin taxes on tobacco and alcohol to remedy budget shortfalls. The National Association of State Budget Officers reported that between 2000 and 2015, states adopted 111 tax increases on tobacco products and an additional 23 tax increases on alcohol.

Sin taxes are essentially excise taxes. They are regressive, unreliable, and often used to fund unsustainable spending increases. Although sin taxes can result in a revenue bump over the short term, over the long term sin tax revenues tend to fall, making it difficult to fund programs dependent on those taxes. Sin taxes also have a negative effect on local small businesses as consumers find ways to avoid the taxes, such as purchasing products outside the jurisdiction enforcing the tax. Tax increases on alcohol and tobacco products disproportionately burden low-income taxpayers.

An emerging tobacco tax issue is the overzealous regulation and taxation of electronic cigarettes and vaporized nicotine products (VNPs). These products offer many advantages to current tobacco smokers: They eliminate the dangerous chemicals and toxins found in tobacco smoke, and thus are great products to reduce the harm current tobacco smokers face. E-cigarettes mimic the sensations of traditional tobacco cigarettes while lessening the negative impacts.

Our Stance

Electronic cigarettes and VNPs are not tobacco products and should not be taxed or regulated in the same way tobacco products are taxed and regulated. It is important that more research be done on these new tobacco replacement products. They have been proven successful in their ability to help people quit smoking, but they are a relatively new product, and they need further study. This research should be done before governments regulate or tax out of existence these new products – which could save lives and save the country billions of dollars in health care costs – out of existence.

Featured Subtopics

Woman smoking an e-cigarette
Treating e-cigarettes and VNPs as tobacco products will have a negative impact on public health. They are an increasingly popular alternative to tobacco use and should not be discouraged by over-regulation or taxation.
Coins and cigarettes
The excise taxes placed on tobacco are unfair, unreliable, and regressive. They lead to underground markets and disproportionately hurt lower-income people.
Man weighing cigarettes or e-cigarettes
Public policy should not discourage the use of e-cigarettes with over-regulation or taxation. Rather, public policy should recognize the health benefits these products offer to individual smokers and public health generally.

Additional Subtopics

  • Age Limits
  • Blue Laws
  • Cost to Society
  • Defending Smokers
  • Privatization
  • Regulation
  • Secondhand Smoke
  • Smokeless Tobacco
  • Smoking Bans
  • Smuggling/Black Market
  • Tobacco Litigation

Videos

Title: The Vaping Wars: Brian Fojtik and Victoria Vasconcellos
Description: E-cigarettes are becoming increasingly popular. What impact do the new “vaping wars” have on science, public policy, business, and jobs? Join Brian Fotjik for a discussion on vaping and how the government is playing a huge role in it. Shouldn’t it be your choice? If e-cigarettes are not harmful, why can’t they be used in public? Fojtik has served in both policy and political positions in various states including working for a U.S. senator, governor, lieutenant governor, secretary of state, state senator, and state representative. He worked as director of government relations with a major consumer products company from 1996 to 2009 and currently serves as president of Brownstone Communications in greater Chicago. He received his B.A. from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and his J.D. from Loyola University of Chicago.

Alcohol & Tobacco Experts Team

The Heartland Institute's experts on alcohol and tobacco issues are available for legislative testimony, speaking engagements, and media interviews.

Staff & Fellows Policy Experts

Related News & Opinion View All News

Related Publications View All Publications