by Christopher Snowdon
Competitive Enterprise Institute
February 12, 2013
In his study, The Wages of Sin Taxes, Chris Snowdon reveals that these taxes not only do little to limit the use of “bad” products, they do nothing to reduce societal costs. Most remarkably, Snowdon demonstrates that those shockingly large estimates of the costs that the consumption of alcohol, tobacco, sugar, and fat supposedly impose on society have little basis in reality. As Snowdon shows, the myth that “sinners”—those who drink, smoke, and eat unhealthful foods—cost more to society than everyone else has been perpetuated in large part because “government has no incentive to tell the public that these groups are being exploited and the affected industries dare not advertise the savings that come from lives being cut short by excessive use of their products.” As Snowdon brilliantly demonstrates, sin taxes do not promote public safety and do nothing to reduce costs to society, and fleece taxpayers.