Tobacco taxes our health care system with many chronic ailments. And tobacco is taxed by the government. On Wednesday, April 1, 2009, the federal tobacco tax on a pack of cigarettes will go up $.62, from $.39 to $1.01. This must surely be a good thing, right? Well, like other efforts at social engineering, it cuts two ways.
We agree in general with the anti-smoking efforts across our country. Municipalities and State governments are increasing the restrictions on where one might smoke. This is good. People generally do not change until they suffer some consequences for their behavior. With enough inconvenience, people will be more inclined to abandon the smoking addiction. And make no mistake about it – smoking is as powerful an addiction as heroin. Understaning the power of the addiction is important to understanding the consequences of tobacco tax hikes.
There is a larger percentage of lower income people who smoke. Your fault, my fault, nobody’s fault – that is the way it is. We will not explore the cause of lower income smoking, we will just accept the facts as various polls suggest. The ultimate result of taxing tobacco is an increase in the tax burden for the lower economic class.
There are many benefits for society in general. Perhaps two million young people will not take up smoking because of the cost. Past history suggests that every 10% increase in the cost of smoking reduces youth smoking by 7%. Raise hell and raise the tax – save my grandchildren.
The revenue from the increased tax is estimated at $32.8 Billion over four years. That money is to be invested in health insurance for children who are presently uninsured – as many as 4.1 million children will benefit with better access to health care.
One estimate has 900,000 fewer people dying of tobacco associated illnesses in the future. The savings in health care costs is estimated at $44.5 Billion.
So what does a civilized nation do? Thefiresidepost.com has been a fierce opponent of taxes that disproportionately burden the lower economic class. We acknowledge the tobacco tax will increase the burden on the lower economic class more than on any other group. But this tax is different than a repressive lottery or the forced sales tax – the benefits are too great.
Nicotine is an ugly and unforgiving addiction. Heroin strikes like a bolt of lightning. Nicotine is a burglar in the night, quietly stealing quality life. We think that some of the tax revenues should be used for education about the addiction of nicotine and for smoking treatment programs to help people escape the slavery of addiction.