The Christian Coalition of Florida, a group that exists to (in their own words) “protect innocent life, return education to parents, protect citizens from gambling and pornography, strengthen the family and ease taxes on families,” has announced their endorsement of an increase in the so-called “sin tax”—the tax on cigarettes. Their Executive Director, former Florida lawmaker Dennis Baxley, stated his support of the increase in an interview with the Sun-Sentinel.
“Something like the cigarette tax is something that could be considered acceptable, not only in shaping acceptable [health] behavior in the future but keeping us out of an arena [gambling] where we’re depending on people losing a tremendous amount of money,” he said.
While one can certainly understand a principled opposition to gambling, it’s hard to understand why the Christian Coalition would feel the need to weigh in on a tax increase. (One assumes they certainly are not recommending the elimination of the special sales tax exemption for religious materials.) Studies have shown that the average income of cigarette smokers is lower than the general population, and thus any increase in the cigarette sales tax would disproportionately affect the poor. Is that what Mr. Baxley feels Jesus would do? Balance the state’s budget by taxing the poor?