What's truly regressive is smoking itself. Lower-income communities suffer disproportionately from smoking and tobacco illnesses. If public policies can help poorer Americans to quit, those regressive harms and costs are reduced. The Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids says the savings for a pack-a-day smoker who quits is profoundly significant, with savings ranging from $1,000 to $2,300 annually, depending on the state.
After seeing the powerful result of the federal tobacco tax increase, elected officials should support higher tobacco taxes. It's not about economics — it's about public health. But the economics are pretty excellent, too.
Patrick Reynolds is a grandson of tobacco company founder R.J. Reynolds and executive director of Tobaccofree.org in Los Angeles.
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