New York City Mayor Mike ‘Big Gulp’ Bloomberg has proposed raising the smoking age in New York City from 18 to 21 years of age. A companion proposal would hike the price of a pack of cigarettes to more than ten dollars per pack, presumably to a) convince more people to quit and b) recover revenue lost by prohibiting a big chunk of the tax base from paying taxes on cigarettes they are no longer permitted to smoke.
But how does New York’s evil super genius plan to recover the revenue lost to the expansion of the black market?
For a guy who stands strong against crime he is doing his level best to enrich criminal activity. J.D. Tuccille at Reason.com, quoting a Mackinac Center for Public Policy survey, reported that 60.9% of the total cigarette market in New York City is driven by the black market. So will raising the tax over $10.00/pack and hiking the smoking age just make the black market bigger?
Are we to simply assume that the people driven to profit from a little ” illegal” activity will all be upstanding entrepreneurs just looking to cover the cost of their text books at some local J-School, or are they more likely to be up and coming criminal opportunists, professional law-breakers, or established crime organizations, using prohibition and excessive taxation to strengthen their power and influence; kind of like Bloomberg, now that I think about it.
The margin and the market could be huge, a carrot too big to pass up on?
The loss of tobacco revenue to the city would also need to be replaced.
The extra cost of policing this government expanded “crime wave” will also be pricey, another burden on the law abiding denizens of Gotham.
But hey, Bloomberg gets to look like he is doing “good,” as does his likely replacement Christine Quinn who supports both proposals. So let them sleep in the bed they have made. If the people of New York City continue to elect these sorts of leaders then they get what they deserve. Far be it from me to save them from rising crime and higher taxes.