Mayo doctors: raising sin taxes would improve public health

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In a new journal article two Mayo Clinic doctors argue that higher "sin taxes" would lead more Americans to cut back on behaviors that can produce chronic diseases.

As Fox 9 reports, Doctors Michael Joyner and David Warner call for higher taxes not just on tobacco and alcohol, but also on sugary drinks and fatty foods. The doctors maintain that sin taxes have improved public health in the past. They say going further down that road would prompt more people to change their behaviors and would raise more revenue.

Some of the critics of sin taxes have argued that they hit poor people the hardest. The Mayo doctors counter that the poor will benefit most from the behavioral changes the taxes inspire. They say cutting back on those behaviors will allow them to keep more of their money and will improve their health.

The Minnesota Legislature bought into the idea of higher sin taxes this spring when it raised the cigarette tax by $1.60 a pack.

That price increase kicks in on July 1st. It's prompted concern among some law enforcement officers that a black market for cigarettes could emerge as a way to evade the higher prices.

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