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Smoke Gets in Your Eyes

Updated: Apr 15

Democratic Rep. Gene Shelby says he wants to pitch a big tax hike on cigarettes to fund a statewide trauma system. At the same time, state health chieftain Paul Halverson is urging a big tax hike on cigarettes as a way to reduce the number of smokers in the state. Both are quoted in this story by Rob Moritz at the Arkansas News Bureau, which notes that state anti-smoking measures have resulted in some 84,000 fewer Arkansans lighting up since 2002.

I’ve been scratching my head on this, because it seems like the two goals that Halverson and Shelby are pushing conflict, don’t they? This timely Wall Street Journal editorial looks at an analogous situation in Maryland and says “yes, they do conflict,” and critiques “the folly of trying to finance government with a tax on a shrinking pool of smokers.”

Budget gurus: Please clear the air on this and help me understand how this works.

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