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November 10th, 2001

Taxin’ the Smokes

I’m not a smoker. I think it’s a totally disgusting habit – one that is bad not only for the smoker, but the smokees (not to be confused with Smokeys) around that person. That said, I also understand that breaking that habit is quite difficult.

It looks like Washington state wants to make it a little easier, though: they now have the highest cigarette tax in America. Voters approved a 60 cent per pack increase to a whopping $1.425/pack – and that’s just taxes. I think it’s a great idea, and a few smokers I heard on a radio show discussing the issue agreed. The consensus was that, yes, smoking is bad – but people seem to be willing to pay the price.

But what if you’re not willing? Will people quit smoking simply because it costs too much money? -pm

Posted in Consumer Commentary

FROM: Robert
DATE: Saturday November 10, 2001 -- 12:20:45AM
It's an addiction. If high taxes don't make you quit, it will take something stronger. How'd DEATH sound?



FROM: Chris
DATE: Saturday November 10, 2001 -- 8:53:33PM
Can you sell tobacco products via the Internet? I smell a business opportunity here...



FROM: Ryan
DATE: Saturday November 10, 2001 -- 9:45:10PM
That's not a business opportunity you smell, that's some stank ass cigarettes. :)

Oddly, though I hate the smell of tobacco smoke, for some reason I actually enjoy the smell of second-hand (always second-hand, of course!) marijuana smoke. Strange.



FROM: Maggie
DATE: Sunday November 11, 2001 -- 12:20:03AM
Eating excessive amounts of lard would eventually kill someone too. However, the governement does not feel the need to "hold the people's hand" by imposing excessive taxes on lard. In other words, the people of this country are being controlled, our rights are being infringed upon. Why? Because we aren't smart enough to make our own decisions? We might as well just make all things that are "bad" or "wrong" illegal while we're at it, eh? Because god knows, it'd be ashame to allow us the basic principles this country was founded upon.
And, yes, I am a smoker.



FROM: mATT
DATE: Sunday November 11, 2001 -- 1:06:31AM
Screw all those people ou there that keep increasing taxes on things like cigarettes, alcohol, gas etc. I don't drink or smoke, but taxes are already bad enough. We get taxed off of the money we make, and then also off of the money we spend. My suggestion: strap down some of these pc assholes and make em smoke until they die!



FROM: Robert
DATE: Sunday November 11, 2001 -- 2:59:50AM
Second-hand pot smoke? What the hell? Pot smell good only before it's been burned...kinda like a seasoning or something.



FROM: Josh
DATE: Sunday November 11, 2001 -- 3:23:18AM
What I've noticed about things like smoking, quitting a vice, and just trying to do the whole self-improvement thing in general is that things like that (ie tax, peer pressure, ect) are pretty much crap as a deterrant. Until someone says to themselves, "No more. I'm doing this to better myself," no amount of external pressure short of just physically keeping them from the cigs will convince someone to quit. And even then, that might not work, as I've seen people become pretty violent in the course of a nicotine fit.

As Dennis Leary said: you could package the cigs in a big black pack, a giant warning on one side, a skull and crossbones on the other, with a name like "tumors," priced at $15.00 a pack, and people would be lining up from around the block just to buy them.

And, acting in the interests of full disclosure, yes. I smoke a pipe once or twice a month (if even that frequently, as busy as I've been here lately) and maybe 1 cigar about once every 6 months or so. Sometimes, I'll just smoke the pipe tobacco with rolling papers, but apart from the cigars, that's as close as I've come to the popular definition of "cigarettes."

Chris -- Yeah, but mainly things like cigars and pipe tobacco. But given the state of the economy (I've refused to call it "new"), a lot of 'em may've gone sod-side these days...



FROM: Paul
DATE: Sunday November 11, 2001 -- 8:36:47AM
The difference for me, between smoking and doing something else like drinking, is that smoking also adversely affects people around the smoker. Thus, it's at the level of affecting not only the individual but people around that person, too.

I don't care if people smoke or not - I think it's a terrible habit, but there's not much I can do to tell you to quit. Given that second-hand smoke affects others in a negative way, I'm fine with taxing them sky high. Addicts who can't or won't quit will have to pay, bringing in more cash; some people will quit.

Maggie, I think your argument is clouded with emotion. The US was not founded on the ability to choose whether to smoke or not, and no one is saying that if you want to smoke (and do severe damage to your body as well as potential damage to others) you can not. It'll just cost more. That's the problem with this addiction: it will no longer be cheap, except in the tobacco states.

One aside: Because we aren't smart enough to make our own decisions?

Working in pure opinion here, I think Americans have proven that we stink at making good decisions. :)



FROM: Maggie
DATE: Sunday November 11, 2001 -- 10:42:52AM
Paul, you're being pretty naive. With the taxes becoming incresingly sky high, what direction do you think the government is going with the idea of cigarettes? Even if cigarettes do not eventually become illegal (remember reading about the prohabition??) in certain states, by raising the taxes on them they ARE saying you should not smoke. Yes, you still have the option to smoke, but the control is still there.
Also, I think many things have adverse effects on people, which we don't treat the same way as the cigarette issue. Though it is not necessarily nor directly correlated to drinking alcohol, deaths related to drinking are far far far more prominent than second-hand smoking deaths. Why aren't you arguing for a tax increase there? I feel my health is at risk when the person sitting next to me on the train is coughing all over the place, but I wouldn't argue for laws restricting people who are ill to go out in public. Maybe that sounds a bit ridiculous to you, or perhaps clouded with emotion, but that's how taxing cigarettes to such an extent, or anything else along those lines, sounds to me.



FROM: Paul
DATE: Sunday November 11, 2001 -- 11:43:58AM
Maggie: Yes, you still have the option to smoke, but the control is still there.

Yes. Option. No one is forcing you to smoke, drive a car, drink booze, or anything else. You have the option to do that, or not. However, there is scientific evidence that smoking is bad for smokers and smokees. If you want to go ahead and smoke, that's fine, but expect to start paying "true cost" prices for smokes. That includes the increased cost in health care, air pollution, and higher amounts of rubbish to take care of.

Are states saying that you shouldn't smoke? No. What they're saying is that, should you choose to smoke, you'd better be ready to pay for it - on a realistic level. Taxes of pennies on the pack are pretty much restricted to tobacco states. Why is that?

Though it is not necessarily nor directly correlated to drinking alcohol, deaths related to drinking are far far far more prominent than second-hand smoking deaths. Why aren't you arguing for a tax increase there?

That's not the topic of the Ping, for one. For two, your facts are reversed. There were, for instance, 41,000 deaths caused by DUI in 1998. I chose DUI arbitrarily, I will admit, because I couldn't find information on "alcohol-related" deaths (please clarify.) On the other hand, passive or second-hand smoking causes between 35,000 and 62,000 deaths annually. That's just second-hand!

So why don't we tax drinking? We could indeed tax it more, and I personally would be fine with that. But watch your statements, for I'm definitely not saying that we shouldn't consider a higher alcohol tax.

I feel my health is at risk when the person sitting next to me on the train is coughing all over the place, but I wouldn't argue for laws restricting people who are ill to go out in public.

You're right; that does sound ridiculous to me. Equating an illness with cigarette smoking is quite silly; illnesses are temporary and may or may not be the fault of the individual. Smoking is initiated, caused, and sustained by the individual and also has the potential to injure or, in some cases, kill innocent bystanders.

Let's face it. Smoking is a disgusting, dirty habit that only does bad things to a person - and other people, too. While I don't think we should ban it, I do think we should tax the hell out of it and increase public education on what it does. If people still choose to smoke after learning about its evils, and the corrupt tobacco industry, I say let them pay $15 a pack.



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