Cigarette Tax Increases Bring Increased Crime

As much as 50 percent of the cigarettes consumed in the state of Washington would be smuggled in if a proposed $1 increase in cigarette taxes there passes, according to an Op-Ed by Center scholars today in the Seattle-Tacoma News Tribune.

Michael LaFaive, director of the Morey Fiscal Policy Center, and Todd Nesbit, a Penn State professor and adjunct scholar with the Center, wrote the Op-Ed based on a 2008 study they co-authored with Patrick Fleenor, an economist with the Tax Foundation, titled "Cigarette Taxes and Smuggling: A Statistical Analysis and Historical Review."

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Their statistical modeling predicts how much cigarette smuggling will increase at various per-pack tax increases for 47 of the 48 contiguous states. The authors also explain that such increases in smuggling, not unlike the Prohibition Era, also lead to increases in violent crime.