02 January, 2007

Smokers, You're Worse Than Me So You Have To Pay

Via this blurb at NiT I have discovered that Smoke-Free Tennessee inadvertantly pressed one of my buttons. In a HUGE way.

Why not raise the cigarette tax and get rid of the food tax?


I abhor taxation. I think it is barbaric and contrary to the spirit of self-governance. If we were truly self-governing we would pay for services instead of having our money taken from us by force. What I hate even worse than taxation is the idea that it should be wielded as a tool for correcting certain behaviours while rewarding others. Want people to have more children? Make children tax deductable! Want people to buy houses? Make mortgage interest tax deductable! Want people to refrain from drinking alcohol? Tax the heck out of alcoholic beverages. Forced taxation, tax penalties and deductions are a prime way for government to control the lives of its citizens, to either encourage or curb behaviours.

What's most irritating is when people look at the bad habits of others--habits they themselves do not indulge--and decide that we should tax THAT bad habit. It's smug and sanctimonious and disgusting. Okay, fine. You don't smoke! Good for you. You already have the rewards of living longer (maybe--provided irritated smokers don't cut you down in a haze of anger), saving money and not smelling like you smoke. Why for do you have to kick those who are already down?

I speak for the smokers--even though I am not one--because I know that the day is coming, and fast soon, that I'll be staring at some nanny-stater's tax proposal on ice cream, soda, candy and other non-essential foodstuffs. Followed shortly thereafter on taxes for non-organic foods.

Funnily enough, Smoke Free Tennessee exposes the hole in his/her own plan:
Tennessee needs to ban smoking or give its local governments the authority to ban smoking in all public places.


Great thinking, buddy. Pin your revenue on an activity, and then curb the activity, thus automatically decreasing your revenue base exponentially. This type of 'logic' makes me think that perhaps the SFT blogger is already in some type of political office.

17 Comments:

At 3:01 PM, January 02, 2007, Blogger JB said...

It's smug and sanctimonious and disgusting.

I hate taxes as much as anyone, but I also hate paying for the healthcare costs of idiots who smoke two packs a day for 40 years. I have NO PROBLEM at all with raising taxes on cigarettes/tobacco products. Let the people who use them pay for their healthcare. If that's a slippery slope towards higher taxes on junk food, then so be it, I could stand to lose a few pounds.

 
At 3:09 PM, January 02, 2007, Blogger Kat Coble said...

I also hate paying for the healthcare costs of idiots who smoke two packs a day for 40 years.

You aren't. They are paying higher premiums than you if you're a non-smoker.

 
At 3:09 PM, January 02, 2007, Blogger Kat Coble said...

If that's a slippery slope towards higher taxes on junk food, then so be it, I could stand to lose a few pounds.

Sorry, forgot to say this:

Lose those pounds on your own. Why should all of us be taxed because you are fat? Where's the logic in that?

 
At 3:13 PM, January 02, 2007, Anonymous nm said...

I think you're misinterpreting SFT's goal. It's to get people to stop smoking.

 
At 3:18 PM, January 02, 2007, Anonymous Linda said...

I can remember working at a grocery store in Indiana, where we had a "PCI" key - pop, candy, and ice - the taxable "food items"...

 
At 3:18 PM, January 02, 2007, Blogger Kat Coble said...

I think you're misinterpreting SFT's goal. It's to get people to stop smoking.

I did understand that from the get-go. But since SFT is proposing an elimination of the food tax in favour of a higher tobacco tax, s/he shoots their zealotry in the foot.

What happens to our tax revenue when SFT's dream of a tobaccoless nirvana has been acheived? We've taxed one problem out of existence. We need to then cast about for another source of revenue to replace that which we've lost.

 
At 3:19 PM, January 02, 2007, Blogger Kat Coble said...

I can remember working at a grocery store in Indiana, where we had a "PCI" key - pop, candy, and ice - the taxable "food items"...

;-p

I'm another Indiana retail veteran, and I remember that key on one register and the "NFTF" on another.

(Non-Food/Taxable Food)

 
At 3:30 PM, January 02, 2007, Blogger Wintermute said...

Smokers' higher health care costs? Maybe, but compared to the also largely shared costs of obesity and incredibly expensive last year of life and nursing home care for all those long livesters with other eventually deadly conditions?

And smokers burden the Social Security system less. Only by splitting the two systems do policymakers make smokers look economically abusive.

Too much attention to this dweeb already. You don't have to have any education (formal or self-) or much broadening life experience to sign up with Blogspot; and sometimes that really shows.

 
At 3:45 PM, January 02, 2007, Blogger JB said...

You aren't. They are paying higher premiums than you if you're a non-smoker.

Not if the smoker is on TennCare.

 
At 3:51 PM, January 02, 2007, Blogger Kat Coble said...

Tenncare is a wasteland full of people with very bad health problems that can't get insurance for one reason or another.

You're paying for smokers, but you're also paying for girls who dropped out of school because they got pregnant, and now have less education that one needs to find a good paying job with benefits. Should we tax sex?

You're also paying for elderly retired people who have no health insurance through work. Should we demand that all people be killed upon retirement?

 
At 4:12 PM, January 02, 2007, Blogger Slartibartfast said...

Should we tax sex?

Hurray! I'm getting a REFUND this year! :)

Seriously, if we ever go to a single-payer system, these kind of discussions will get more and more heated. We need to think long and hard (and take a few trips to Canada) before we go down that road.

 
At 5:08 PM, January 02, 2007, Anonymous nm said...

I did understand that from the get-go. But since SFT is proposing an elimination of the food tax in favour of a higher tobacco tax, s/he shoots their zealotry in the foot.

I still think you're missing the point. It's a rhetorical device (food, clothing, and other necessities are taxed! yet luxuries -- even unhealthy ones, like smoking -- are taxed relatively low! surely this is a cosmic injustice, and should be reversed!) rather than a proposal for replacement of revenues.

I have no strong opinions on raising cigarette taxes. I will make two observations, though. (1) In New York, food, medicine, and clothing purchases under $100 are not taxed; taxes on tobacco are very high. (2) I've heard about twice as many complaints about taxes in 3 years in Nashville as I did in 20 years in New York, although there's a high sales tax there plus an income tax. I'm not suggesting that there's necessarily any causal relationship at work, but there just might be.

 
At 5:10 PM, January 02, 2007, Blogger Chance said...

"I think you're misinterpreting SFT's goal. It's to get people to stop smoking."

I think a more noble goal is wanting people to be free.

 
At 7:43 PM, January 02, 2007, Blogger Smoke Free said...

nm, you got my point

Put a high tax on food and low tax on tobacco?

The other stupid Tennessee tax is tha hall tax....

 
At 12:23 PM, January 03, 2007, Blogger Les Jones said...

I dunno, Kat. Taxing undesirable activities and providing tax incentives for desirable activities is a pretty benign form of government influence. And we gotta tax sumpin' to pay for roads and fire departments and police and schools and all the rest.

 
At 5:15 PM, January 03, 2007, Blogger Chance said...

"Taxing undesirable activities and providing tax incentives for desirable activities is a pretty benign form of government influence. And we gotta tax sumpin' to pay for roads and fire departments and police and schools and all the rest."

Concerning the funding of government services, that is really an argument for taxes in general, and at worst, higher taxes in general, I don't see why it is an argument for specialized or sin taxes. Concerning the positive influence aspect, my question is why we care so much about what others do in the first place.

Maybe I am just an idealistic young lad. I grew up with the idea that America was a great place because it was free. If we are only "free" to do the proper things, then it is not really freedom.

 
At 10:05 AM, January 04, 2007, Anonymous Vol Abroad said...

I must confess I'm a fairly recently quit smoker - but even when I was smoking I supported at least some level of additional taxation on tobacco products. I agree with Les Jones, raising taxes on "bad" things to reduce taxes on "good" things makes sense. If you can capture the costs of negative externalities - all the better.

That being said - cigarettes are always a target for sometimes ridiculously high taxes (as here in the UK - a pack costs around $10 at current exchange rates) - because demand is relatively inelastic. The UK Treasury loses a whole bunch of money each year because people buy on the black market to avoid the excessively high tax rate.

 

Post a Comment

<< Home