With the local cigarette tax for Philly schools passing out of committee, it’s a good time to zoom out and ask why we haven’t been talking about raising the cigarette tax all across the state to fill the Great Republican Budget Hole of 2014.
Here’s the most recent map of state cigarette tax rates I could find, from the Tax Foundation. As you can see, Pennsylvania doesn’t have particularly high state taxes on cigarettes and we could stand to raise it another $2.00.
Now, there’s a good conversation to be had here about whether we’re aiming for the revenue-maximizing tax rate (the sweet spot where not too many people quit or buy out of state/on the black market) or the public health-maximizing tax rate (where lots of people quit and we get less and less money over time.) But I don’t think an extra $2 a pack statewide would overshoot the revenue-maximizing rate.