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“The role of the government should be taking care of public health and securing resources,” he said. “Higher tobacco prices [provide] a welcome source of revenue for the government and would have the double effect of creating revenue and addressing the public health issue. The added taxation will hardly put the industry out of business.”

The tobacco industry pays the most in terms of excise taxes out of any other “sin” industry - $32.7 billion compared with $7.6 billion in gambling taxes or $10 billion in alcohol excise taxes. This high rate of taxation on tobacco products, particularly cigarettes, drives consumers to avoid paying the taxes altogether, Mr. Sutton said.

“Excise taxes spur consumers in high-tax areas to seek to avoid them, which impacts retailers, governments and the tobacco company in question,” he added.

A “ripple effect” goes into action when consumers turn to purchasing online or out of their state or buying counterfeit products, he said.

“It ultimately results in job loss at the retailer.”

Ben Jenkins, vice president of government communications at the Distilled Spirits Council of the United States, said there are other ways to make money off of alcohol instead of lumping it into the sin tax category. He said that with numerous studies promoting the benefits of moderate drinking, alcohol shouldn’t be taxed as a sin.

Mr. Jenkins said that alcohol laws across the country are being repealed and revamped to generate new revenues without further burdening consumers with higher taxes. “Modernization” methods include re-thinking laws that ban alcohol sales on Sundays and decreasing the tax on alcohol on state levels.

David Ozgo, chief economist at the distilled spirits council, argued that alcohol “should not be in any sin-tax category.” Mr. Ozgo said studies have shown that when prices or taxes on alcohol are raised, consumption is reduced among light to moderate drinkers, but not abusive drinkers.

“If we’re looking at using excise taxes as a way to control abusive drinking, it doesn’t work,” he said.

John Warren Kindt, professor of business and legal policy at the University of Illinois, said the gambling industry “has got people mesmerized into thinking they’re winning when they’re, in fact, losing” and is being subsidized by taxpayer dollars. For every $1 in benefits, he said, the costs to taxpayers are $3 or more.

“Legalized gambling is the same as legalizing crack cocaine,” Mr. Kindt said. “Plenty of companies would line up for it, but everybody knows instinctively that the socioeconomic costs of legalizing hard drugs are so enormous that they would overwhelm any benefits. It’s the same with legalized gambling.”

Mr. Kindt said that the gambling industry temporarily creates jobs, such as in construction, but the industry eventually will drain jobs from the consumer economy.

“It’s taking down everything we’ve got,” he said. “People are going to have to decide if we’re going to save the economy or gamble it into oblivion.”

Frank J. Fahrenkopf Jr., president and CEO of the American Gaming Association, said the commercial casino industry is “a robust segment of the mainstream entertainment economy.” He said the gambling industry directly employs 400,000 people and indirectly supports an additional 475,000 jobs.

“We generate opportunities for tens of thousands of supplier businesses and substantial tax revenues for federal, state and local economies,” Mr. Fahrenkopf said. “These jobs, revenues and business opportunities are vital as communities across the country struggle to recover from the recession.”

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