The Taxation of Smoke Inhalation!

Roland S. Martin – CNN

Roland Martin says that a bigger cigarette tax is a good idea that will discourage an unhealthy practice.

We all have our vices. But one that drives me nuts is smoking.

There is nothing — NOTHING! — that I like about smoking.

Why someone in their right mind would want to essentially inhale fire is beyond me.

When relatives come to my home and they smoke, they can’t just stand outside the front or back door. No, I send them to the furthest point in the backyard to get their nicotine fix.

I celebrate when cities pass smoking bans because the only smoke I want in a restaurant should come from a hot, juicy steak. If I’m walking down the street, and the person in front of me is leaving their trail of smoke, I’ll happily speed up to get past them or publicly wave the smoke out of the way when walking by them to show my disapproval. And it angers me to drive down the street and look over to the next car and see a mom or dad puffing away as a helpless child has to sit there and inhale that junk.

So don’t think for a second that you’ll find any sympathy from me for the folks who are up in arms over the federal tobacco tax on a pack of cigarettes jumping from 39 cents to a buck and a penny. The money will be used for the expansion of the president’s health initiatives.

Look, I don’t care if a Democrat, Republican, or independent was behind this tax, I would gladly see it happen.

The folks who are not happy are saying this is far too much taxation and it’s wrong, but we can’t deny the health reality. Cigarettes are unhealthy. Period. This isn’t up for argument or debate.

According to an Associated Press story, “The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says cigarette smoking results in an estimated 443,000 premature deaths each year, and costs the economy $193 billion in health care expenses and lost time from work. Smoking is a major contributor to heart disease, cancer and lung disease.”

But then those who don’t want to see it happen are bringing out the usual prop: the poor, poor people.

Critics say the tax will disproportionately hurt poor people. Fine! Did we somehow forget that poor people already are likely to be in poorer health because they are living in areas where there are food deserts, and that means lack of access to fresh fruits and vegetables?

Poor folks are likely to lack insurance, which means when they get sick, they will go to a city or county hospital, and taxpayers have to foot the bill. So their decision to buy cigarettes will probably hit us in the pocketbook later on.

Folks, poor people are always used by someone. And in this case, they are being trotted out so we can say, “Oh, this is so harsh because the poor will be hurt.”

Let’s face it: I don’t want poor, middle or rich folks smoking. I just think it’s disgusting. But if this tax will cause a lot of folks — poor or otherwise — to quit smoking and add a few years to their life, then I call that good legislation.

~ Any thoughts people?

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5 thoughts on “The Taxation of Smoke Inhalation!

  1. Abbey says:

    I fully agree.
    I can tell when someone is standing half a block away from my house smoking. If my windows are open the noxious smell comes right on and smacks me in the face.

    Im sorry i dont really care if poor people are hurt by an increase to the tax on cigs, if youre in that much need you shouldnt be smoking anyway, use that money to lets say ummmm buy healthy food for yourself and or your kids. Jeez comon sense peeps.

    If im trying to figure out if i can pay my gas bill and buy food for my kids i really couldnt care less if someone cant afford their stupid stinky funk sticks anymore.

  2. izaakmak says:

    I am always amazed at how casually some can simply dismiss the rights of others simply because they don’t approve of how “those people” live. The issue here is not about health, the poor, or the Prez’s agenda. The issue is whether or not the majority has the right to target an “unpopular” group for taxation that is not shared across the board by all citizens. My answer is No! In a free society, there can be no such thing as the right to deny the rights of others.

    http://iwanticewater.wordpress.com/2009/04/01/tolerance-not-smoking/

  3. bbgcmac says:

    izaakmak,

    Thanks for weighing in. I think your point is an interesting one. But there are other questions to ponder for it. I agree that a group should not be penalized because they smoke. I won’t use the term unpopular because I don’t think that’s the accurate way to put it. In other words, if the smoker was the only one who has to smell the smoke, I doubt that others would care. It could certainly be argued and has been proven that second hand smoke is a killer – so thats not a popularity issue but a health one – and as much as a smoker has the right to smoke or drink or whatever, others also have the right to clean air when they dine etc.

    but to your point about taxation I would say this… while it may not appear “fair” to tax that segment of people – even if you were to advocate for the poor, you have to keep in mind that in this free society even if the poor person smokes and ends up sick with cancer or emphazima (sp) if they go to the emergency room OR if they end up in dire straights guess what, even if they cannot afford it that same free society is footing the bill on the other end with their tax dollars.

    Of course we could argue what they do with tax dollars and I am sure we would agree that can be a mess in itself, but I don’t think on the smoking end of it you can have it both ways. One cannot say let me smoke for cheap and even if I can’t afford the healthcare cost down the road you no smokers should foot the bill. this is the reason I am not outraged on it. we all have rights, but rights where we put our health at risk also come with responsibilties too.

  4. izaakmak says:

    I have to say that you make some good and interesting points. But at the same time, you open up a terrible can of worms with the whole “costs to society” argument. The problem, once again, is that it only works when attempting to sway the majority opinion against an unpopular minority.

    In the article I referred to, I light-heartedly mentioned that perhaps this litigious society should do something about the “mind-crushing second-hand bull#$%@” I have to put up with. In all seriousness, I have struggled for many years to overcome the psychological damage done to me by all the irrational nonsense I was raised to believe by my family and society in general.

    That is, in fact, the entire point of the “Hell On Earth” theme of my blog. But I ask you, what chance do you think I have of getting laws passed preventing people from spewing forth the mind damaging nonsense that has and is doing so much harm to our society – and most especially to our children? I believe that very sound scientific arguments can be made in support of such laws, but passing laws to restrict the freedoms of the majority stand very little chance of passage.

    So again, it comes down to the political expediency of dealing with what will pass while the much larger, and far more serious, issues go untouched. As for my personal opinion on “the costs to society,” I don’t believe that the people should ever be obligated to bail individuals out from the damages done to their lives by their own poor decisions. But try passing that through congress!

    Thanks for listening.

  5. bbgcmac says:

    Much respect my friend ~ I’m feeling you.

    Really appreciate the dialogue.

    Please keep in touch!

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