Opposing Groups Offer Sincerity Test On Tobacco Tax

Washington, DC, May 26, 1998 — Two organizations which in the past disagreed on the issue of tobacco regulation today joined to propose a simple “sincerity test” for the tobacco tax bills currently pending in Congress. If these taxes are truly aimed at reducing underage smoking, then Congress should give rebates of the tax to adult smokers.

The proposal was issued by the American Council on Science and Health (ACSH) and the Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI). In their view, an adult tobacco tax rebate would resolve one of the key questions hanging over the proposed $600 billion tax increase: is Congress doing this for the children, or for the money? By rebating the revenues collected from adult smokers, Congress could unequivocally demonstrate the purity of its motives–or it could drop the matter entirely.

CEI General Counsel Sam Kazman noted: “With so many politicians crowding onto the protect-our-children bandwagon, we need to guard against exploitation.” Dr. Elizabeth M. Whelan, ACSH President, stated : “In short, the sincerity test would filter out impure Congressional motives.”

Because of local gambling laws, neither organization was accepting bets on which way Congress would go under such a proposal.

Both ACSH and CEI opposed the original tobacco settlement proposal, but they differ on the issue of industry liability. In CEI's view, current warnings, coupled with widespread public knowledge of the risks of smoking, should put all smokers on notice regarding the dangers of cigarettes. ACSH disagrees, arguing that juries should be able to judge the adequacy of the cursory warnings in individual cases.

ACSH is a nonprofit organization dedicated to evaluating policy issues on the basis of sound science. ACSH is located at 1995 Broadway, 2d Floor, New York NY 10023-5860; tel. 212-362-7044; web site http://www.acsh.org.

CEI is a non-profit, non-partisan research and advocacy institute dedicated to the principles of free markets and limited government. For more information, contact Emily McGee at 202-331-1010.

ACSH contact–Jeff Stier, 212-362-7044