The Unintended Consequences of Taxes on Tobacco, Alcohol and Gambling

“Sin taxes,” as they are known, are taxes that are levied on a certain number of products that governments consider harmful like alcohol, tobacco, gambling and certain foods that are high in sugar or fat. In 2012, the average Canadian family paid 5.3% of its total contributions to government in the form of taxes on alcohol, tobacco, entertainment and other excise taxes. These taxes have been fixtures of our lives for a long time, and risk becoming more so during periods of budgetary difficulty insofar as they allow governments to raise more revenue all while claiming to promote virtue. History shows, however, that they rarely achieve their contradictory objectives. Moreover, they sometimes have negative consequences for some of society’s most vulnerable groups.

Technical Annex (in French only)

Media release :: Taxes on tobacco, alcohol and gambling: Contradictory objectives that are hard to attain


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