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WWL: Are "Sin Taxes" the Answer?
Where We Live - with John Dankosky
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In this episode:

Governor Rell is proposing to raise taxes on cigarettes and alcohol in the state


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49:01 minutes (23.53 MB)
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Governor Rell is proposing a big tax hike on alcohol and cigarettes – she says it’s a tax you can avoid, because you “Don’t have to drink, and you don’t have to smoke.”

Today we’ll explore these “sin taxes”, in practice around the country. In many states the taxes do bring in money, reduce the number of smokers, and improve health among the most vulnerable.

Critics say sin taxes are regressive, discriminatory, and claim they open the door to broader government intervention. And, the states of New Jersey and New York have actually lost revenue due to increased cigarette taxes. Elon law professor Andrew Haile joins us to talk about the conflict of interest states find themselves in - between protecting citizens' health and depending on revenue of continued sales of harmful products. We’ll also hear from Governor Rell’s budget chief Bob Genaurio.

Join the conversation about Sin Taxes - Are they a way to curb unhealthy choices? Are they bad for small business? And, are they a stable revenue source?

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Here we go....

I am a smoker and am well aware of the health risks, however, if this State wants to pick the pockets of it's citizens, why only rob a select group?  How about a $3.00 "Toilet Paper Tax"?  Do you know anyone who DOES NOT use toilet paper?  Wonderful that the tax proceeds will go to education, but I have no children in public school... how does the tax I pay beneft me? And furthermore, the sky high prices are bound to prompt people to quit smoking... who will fund education then? Certainly not this State - which has proven to be down right lousy in so many ways... I really regret moving here and plan to move away ASAP. "Charming Connecticut"???  Not on your life!  But, don't worry, they are also doubling taxes on beach and State park passes, hunting and fishing license, amongst a host of other things.. so, do don't worry... I wonder how this State would function if it were not so "top heavy" and disorganized...(have you ever called a State Office? YIKES)

Sin Tax (Cigarettes)

Lets make sure cigars are included RETROACTIVELY taxed to catch up with the cigarette taxes.....Politicians need to share in the hikes, lets see how they react when their sin of choice is taxed as much as our cigarette addictions


Not to sound crazy or anything, but coffee sales are through the roof! Caffiene is addictive and has no limitations or restrictions. Whereas, cigarettes and alcohol have limitations(ex:age and warnings). If i don't have a coffee in the morning, all hell might break loose! Not to mention, that there is a Dunkin Donuts on every corner in Connecticut. Have you ever seen a little kid on a caffiene high? Or have you ever had too much and you start to shake and get hot flashes. (not speaking from experience, but simply speaking)?

If they want to tax something, tax the "double 1/2 cafe, 1/2 decafe mocha supreme with whip cream", And leave me to my cheap and fun "bottle of wine, with the girls at home movie night"!

What sin is there in that?

And who gets to decide what's a "sin" anywho?

I bet the Governor is committing a sin right now!

P.S. Tolls would be great! It creates jobs and raises money for the State of  Connecticut. We do have alot of tourists!


There are many ways to raise revenue for the state and increasing tax on cigarettes and alcohol is not the way to do it. What I suggest is put up toll booths.



"Sin Taxes"

Gov. Rell says"You don't have to smoke, you don't have to drink". I say "You don't have to be governor" The casinos in this area depend on their Asian customers for their income. 3/4 of the Asians smoke. Stop smoking in the casinos, and you will bankrupt them, (no casinos, no cash cows,= a bankrupt Connecticut.) Higher taxes will mean people will buy their cigarettes etc. from other states.

Listener Email from Peter

Sin taxes are a legitimate form of revenue for the state.  Alcohol, tobacco; that is fine tax them. 

The problem with the Governor’s proposal at this particular time is that it won’t solve the problem.  She’s pulling out sin taxes because it’s politically easy, no one will crucify her for that.  This state is in fiscal trouble and she is not making the hard decisions that need to be made.  Lowell Weicker did what needed to be done: state income tax.  He showed leadership.  Governor Rell is showing no leadership at all by pulling out the old Republican stand by: sin taxes. 

Quite frankly no one seems to be able to come up with ANY new ideas on how to raise the revenue that needs to be raised.  

Listener Email from Dawn

Based on the rationale that people do not need to purchase alcohol or cigarettes, therefore they can avoid them, why not increase taxes on chips, soda and candy? People do not need to purchase those either. Just because something is not necessary, does not mean it should be singled out and the people who choose to purchase it have a tax placed on it. AND, if the government feels that this is the desired way to increase taxes than why not on ALL luxury items? That allows a broader tax base.

Listener Email

Taxing cigarette smokers is unconstitutional, regressive and a disgrace. The state pretends that it are doing it to encourage people to quit smoking. On the contrary it's just a rationalization for raising money on the backs of a addicted  group. Originally they promised to set up programs to help people quit smoking but not one dime has actually been state. Actually they don't want people to quit because it would reduce tax revenue.

Heaven forbid that they raise income taxes on the incredibly wealthy hedge fund managers and others of their ilk populating Fairfield county or stop giving raises to already overpaid state employees.

I HATE this state and will be moving as soon as I am able. SHAME ON YOU!

By the way, why don't you take callers? Are you afraid to?

taxing cigarettes and alchol

I don't drink or smoke and I think the state should look at other areas to tax. This tax won't stop anyone from smoking or drinking and I believe it is a throw back to outdated thinking.

There is no real benifit from this kind of tax other than adding to the states populations aggravation and maybe loss of small business income.