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By Anonymous Mike, pseudonymously.

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Monday, August 13, 2007
Nadine, Call Your Office

I doubt few things in life are as predictable as this story which was in today's AZ Republic:

"Cigarette Sales Off Since Tax Hike"

Seems the big cigarette tax hikes approved by voters last November are beginning to bite as the Republic reports that "sales were down 23 percent in May and 15 percent in June from a year earlier."

Now it's unclear if declining sales is measured in cigarettes sold or tax revenue generated but the article states that it is tax officials reporting the decline.

Here's the next part of the story...

97.5% of last year's tax hike came from Nadine Basha's proposal to fund early childhood programs through increased tobacco taxes. At the time, I said the most likely result of this measure was to make smoking expensive enough to get some people to quit or reduce smoking resulting in a reduction in smoking levels in the state. That would put a crimp in other public programs that were dependent on tobacco tax dollars. Now it's happening and that 15 to 23% drop in consumption or revenue will hurt.

Despite what DHS Director Sue Gerard may think when she says...

"If we got to a point that the level of smoking was so low that we didn't have money to do all these good programs we are doing, that is a problem I would be happy to face," Gerard said. "You would have such an effect on the overall health of our community. You'd see decreases in other costs."

The revenue holes in the programs will occur long before their or anybody else's cost reductions from decreased smoking catch-up, if ever.

So here's the next , next story. If the feds succeed in boosting the federal tax on tobacco, further driving down consumption, and therefore state tobacco tax revenue... what happens to Nadine Basha's early childhood programs?