During his appearance at the Livestrong Presidential Forum in July, Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), who had supported a $1.10-per-pack tax hike in 1998, refused to consider increasing the tax on cigarettes because he believed that some of the funds were diverted away from tobacco control programs:
MCCAIN: I don’t think I would, [raise the federal tax on tobacco] because I don’t think the money is being spent on the state taxes right now. […]
ZAHN: So is there any circumstance that could be proven to you, if there was a direct correlation between taxes going up and the use of tobacco going down?
MCCAIN: It would have to be proven and frankly the constitution of this Congress, they couldn’t prove it to me, because I don’t believe them. I don’t… And by the way, I’m not for raising anybody’s taxes. I think, right now with these economic problems we have, lower taxes is what we need
A new study has proven just that. According to new research, despite some diversion of funding, California’s anti-tobacco program — which “was funded with a constant tax of $0.05 per pack” — yielded a 50-to-1 return, saved $86 billion in personal health care costs, and “prevented 3.6 billion–yes, billion with a “b”–packs of cigarettes from being smoked in 15 years.”
So will McCain raise taxes to save money and reduce tobacco consumption or stick by his ideologically-driven ‘no new taxes’ pledge?