Cigarettes

White House Drops Cigarette Tax Proposal

That trial balloon went up in smoke

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Remember the cigarette tax hike President Barack Obama proposed in his big budget rollout?

The White House barely does.

Presidential budgets are all about theater. But this year's was more theatrical than most: Its biggest single new proposal — the sin tax to generate $78 billion to fund a preschool education program — vanished almost as soon as Obama announced it four weeks ago Wednesday.

The president hasn't mentioned it. The White House didn't coordinate with outside anti-smoking groups. Tobacco companies never worried about putting together a lobbying strategy to kill it. Obama's political arm hasn't sent an email calling on Congress to consider it. Not even Obama's surgeon general, who calls curbing smoking "the single most important issue for all the surgeons general of the past five decades," put out a press release applauding the idea.