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

Oregon Children Deserve the Right to Try

Steve Buckstein | March 31, 2015
Oregon hopefully will join twelve states that have enacted Right to Try legislation, allowing terminally ill patients to try experimental drugs not yet approved by the ...  read more

Oregon Seniors Deserve Truth in Medicare Reform

Steve Buckstein | March 26, 2015
By Steve Buckstein and Patrick M. Gleason If Congress doesn’t act by the end of this month, when payment cuts to Medicare providers are scheduled ...  read more

Human Achievement Hour 2015

Steve Buckstein | March 25, 2015
This Saturday you’ll have the opportunity to vote with your light switches. Either turn your lights off from 8:30 pm to 9:30 pm local time ...  read more

More On These Topics

Oregon Children Deserve the Right to Try

Steve Buckstein | March 31, 2015
Oregon hopefully will join twelve states that have enacted Right to Try legislation, allowing terminally ill patients to try experimental drugs not yet approved by the ...  read more

If the state loses $1.4 billion for schools and nobody notices, did it really happen?

John Charles | March 30, 2015
The Oregon legislature is in the midst of its biennial quest for more public school funding. Advocates are so desperate for cash that they are ...  read more

Human Achievement Hour 2015

Steve Buckstein | March 25, 2015
This Saturday you’ll have the opportunity to vote with your light switches. Either turn your lights off from 8:30 pm to 9:30 pm local time ...  read more