HolyCoast: San Francisco to Tax Butts
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Wednesday, May 20, 2009

San Francisco to Tax Butts

No, not the naked kind that are often seen in the city during public events, but the cigarette kind:
SAN FRANCISCO — In what he casts as an attack on litterbugs and nicotine addiction alike, Mayor Gavin Newsom wants to impose a fee on an age-old inhabitant of city streets: the cigarette butt.

The proposal, to be introduced next month to the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, would add 33 cents to the cost of a pack of cigarettes, to offset the estimated $10.7 million the city spends annually removing discarded butts from gutters, drainpipes and sidewalks.

The added cost, Mr. Newsom hopes, will also dampen smokers’ urge to light up.

“In general, fees help reduce the consumption and use of tobacco,” he said in an interview. “And we think that will have a very beneficial public health component.”

Officials here say the municipal fee would be the first in the country to take aim specifically at cigarette butts, particularly filters, which are not biodegradable. But the idea is expected to run into fierce opposition from tobacco companies.

Once again, this will end up being a tax on the poor since they make up a disproportionate percentage of smokers. And Newson knows that the revenue from this tax is not likely to decline since the smokers have such a hard time kicking the habit.

This is just another money grab disguised as an environmental tax.

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