Got a light?

March 29, 2009

funny-no-smoking-signThe federal government’s April Fool’s joke on smokers will be the largest increase ever in the tax on tobacco. As of Wednesday, the federal tax on a pack of cigarettes will go from 39 cents to $1.01. There will be comparable increases in the tax on other tobacco products. Not that they’re a cynical lot, but cigarette manufacturers, anticipating that this tax increase will have a negative impact on sales, raised prices a few weeks ago to make up for their expected losses. This is all for a good cause. The government’s object is to raise $33.5 billion over 4 1/2 years to finance an expansion of health insurance for children. Those who campaign to discourage smoking hope this tax increase, particularly in the midst of a recession, will inspire some people to reassess their priorities and give up the habit.

The connection between smoking and health insurance for children may seem obvious, but it is in fact selective. There are plenty of things that are potentially damaging to children’s health – carbon emissions and some fast food, for example – that the government could tax more heavily to finance the insurance program. Tobacco is the most convenient target, because the nation’s significant shift away from smoking has given smokers the aura of lepers; no one will come to their defense. This is hypocritical, because the same government that depends on tobacco as a safe source of revenue, the same government that makes manufacturers warn their customers that the product might be lethal, the same government that bars cigarette advertising from radio and television, in effect sanctions the sale and consumption of tobacco products by not prohibiting them by law. Smoking is a legal activity, but government would rather impose what amounts to a punitive tax on folks who smoke – which doesn’t include me – than make a serious effort to finance health insurance and other necessary programs by eliminating chronic waste in the federal budget.


5 Responses to “Got a light?”

  1. bart Says:

    Well said. I hate that as a smoker I’m a member of a class that is constantly losing rights and yet continually being asked to subsidize things non smokers want.

    Also, given the budget problems in the US wouldn’t it be more prudent to legalize and tax marijuana?

    While I find pot insanely boring (I don’t want to feel like I need to eat pizza and stare at the television for five hours) I’m not convinced that anti-pot laws have kept anyone from lighting up a joint.

    I am, however, convinced that anti-pot laws have created a huge underground economy that robs the country of much needed tax dollars.

    Even at a low tax rate of two bucks an ounce we could probably bail out AIG another two or three times.

  2. bart Says:

    Sorry for the rant.

    I’m grumpy and ranty when I just wake up.

  3. charlespaolino Says:

    On the contrary, rants are more than welcome.

  4. Sharda Says:

    Hey everyone, Happy Fool’s Day!!!

    A man had been drinking at the bar for hours when he mentioned something about his girlfriend being out in the car. The bartender, concerned because it was so cold, went to check on her. When he looked inside the car, he saw the man’s friend, Dave, and his girlfriend kissing one another. The bartender shook his head and walked back inside.
    He told the drunk that he thought it might be a good idea to check on his girlfriend. The fellow staggered outside to the car, saw his buddy and his girlfriend kissing, then walked back into the bar laughing. “What’s so funny?” the bartender asked.
    “That stupid Dave!” the fellow chortled, “He’s so drunk, he thinks he’s me!”

    Happy April Fool’s Day!

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