Governments levy excise taxes on cigarettes for two reasons: to raise revenues and to discourage smoking. Before the surgeon general’s 1964 report on the ills of smoking,1 these taxes were justified nprmarily in terms of raising revenue. After the report, however, some form of regulation was needed to battle the newfound public health hazard. Although many other forms of regulation were attempted, excise taxes became an integral part of this new regulation.
2 Discussions about tobacco taxes now typically focus on reducing tobacco consumption and improving public health.