Cigarette Taxation and the Social Consequences of Smoking
This paper assesses the appropriate cigarette tax needed to address potential market failures. There is no evidence of inadequate risk decisions by smokers regarding their own welfare. Detailed calculations of the financial externalities of smoking indicate that the financial savings from premature mortality in terms of lower nursing home costs and retirement pensions exceed the higher medical care and life insurance costs generated. The costs of environmental tobacco smoke are highly uncertain, but of potentially substantial magnitude. Even with recognition of these costs, current cigarette taxes exceed the magnitude of the estimated net externalities.
Published: Cigarette Taxation and the Social Consequences of Smoking, W. Kip Viscusi, in Tax Policy and the Economy, Volume 9 (1995), MIT Press