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Last week, the US Food and Drug Administration presented nine gruesome pictures that will soon cover the top half of cigarette packages. One image shows diseased lungs and teeth; another shows a man exhaling smoke through a hole in his neck. These pictures make smoking less pleasant, just as higher cigarette taxes do. But while the latter generates useful public revenue, these images are essentially revenue-less taxes. We can tax behavior in lots of ways — with social stigma or painful pictures — but most of the time, the best taxes involve dollars and cents.


Glaeser, Edward L. "Raise Cigarette Taxes — and Skip the Ugly Photos." Boston Globe, June 30, 2011.