If Philadelphia really plans to boost alcohol and tobacco taxes, the city had better be ready to spend money on extra tax enforcement, and on busting city residents and visitors who try to buy their smokes outside the city, scholars warn.
The proposal by Phila City Councilman Darrell Clarke, backed by Mayor Michael Nutter, to help fund the city's cash-strapped schools by boosting the drink tax and slapping a $2 a pack tax on cigarettes faces resistance from smokers, drinkers and the people who make money supplying them. See my column in today's Philadelphia Inquirer:
Consumers aren't stupid, and many see nothing wrong with driving a little further to avoid their elected officials' increased demands. Though smuggling also draws criminals and suspected terrorists... See Drexel University Prof. Mark Stehr's work on how consumers cross state lines to avoid taxes. Also similar studies by U of Illinois scholar David Merriman and colleagues on the impact of higher cigarette taxes in Chicago, and New York.