In a misguided attempt to save us from ourselves, Oregon legislators have become addicted to the so-called sin taxes they place on booze, drugs, and gambling. If we don’t break their addiction, it will expand into areas such as sugary soft drinks and fatty foods.

Now, a provocative new study challenges the whole concept of sin taxes, finding that they “not only do little to limit the use of ‘bad’ products, they do nothing to reduce societal costs.” Most remarkably, the study “demonstrates that those shockingly large estimates of the costs that the consumption of alcohol, tobacco, sugar, and fat supposedly impose on society have little basis in reality.”
Sin taxes also hit the poor harder than the rich. That’s because products like tobacco and state lotteries are disproportionately purchased by lower income people.

Sin taxes also give governments “a financial incentive to foster the very vices they profess to despise.” This may explain why, out of the more than one billion dollars Oregon has received to date from the Tobacco Master Settlement Agreement between 46 states and the tobacco companies, “not one penny has gone to tobacco prevention.” Prevention would cut into the state’s lucrative tobacco tax revenue, just as it would cut into state monopoly liquor revenue. The same goes for the state lottery that supposedly does good things at the expense of addicted gamblers.

It’s time that Oregon break its addiction to sin taxes.

Steve Buckstein is founder and Senior Policy Analyst at Cascade Policy Institute, Oregon’s free market public policy research organization.

 

One Response to “The Wages of Sin Taxes”

  1. Darryl Jones July 8, 2014 at 11:38 am #

    THE ONLY THING that will stop a Bureaucrat’s or a Legislators DO GOODER (we are

    here to save you from yourselves lines of reasoning) IS A LOBOTOMY, AND EVEN

    THEN IT IS DOUBTFUL

Leave a Reply

 

Other Publications by Steve

The Man Who Could Bring Down ObamaCare

Steve Buckstein | February 18, 2015
Would you like to meet the man the media says could bring down ObamaCare? You’ll have that opportunity on Thursday evening, February 26, when Michael ...  read more

Right to Try Is Right for Oregon: Let terminally ill patients try to save their own lives

Steve Buckstein | February 3, 2015
If you or someone in your family had a terminal illness, would you want the right to try an experimental drug that might save a ...  read more

“Don’t Say You Represent the Students”

Steve Buckstein | January 28, 2015
Republican politicians may no longer be the loudest critics of teachers unions. Influential Democrats are now speaking up also, such as New York Governor Andrew ...  read more

More On These Topics

Proposed Tobacco Tax Increase Will Simply Encourage More Smuggling

John Charles | February 25, 2015
State legislatures across the country have piled on the tobacco taxes over the past decade. Not surprisingly, this has created a growing problem of tobacco ...  read more

Testimony Regarding SB 324-A, Low-Carbon Fuels Standards

John Charles | February 20, 2015
The top legislative priority for most Democrats in Salem has passed the Senate and will be up for its first public hearing in the House ...  read more

The Man Who Could Bring Down ObamaCare

Steve Buckstein | February 18, 2015
Would you like to meet the man the media says could bring down ObamaCare? You’ll have that opportunity on Thursday evening, February 26, when Michael ...  read more