On April 1, a federal tobacco tax increase of 61 cents will take effect, the proceeds used to fund some kind of government run health care thing for kids. Well, sounds like a great idea, right? Not so fast.
Barack Obama promised a tax cut for 95% percent of Americans. 55% percent of smokers are classified as working poor, with 1 in 4 below the poverty line. Well, good, then they’ll have the motivation to quit and save money right? For many, raising the price will not stop them from smoking. Nicotine is an incredibly addictive substance, with menthol, the cigarette of choice for many black Americans being even more addictive than ordinary tobacco. Manufacturers have their added ways to keep the smoker hooked as well. For the poor, there are few affordable options to help them quit (maybe that’s what the tax money should be used for).
It is also been well established that when you ban something or attempt to put it out of reach of the public-especially something addictive, a black market opens up, along with a host of other issues. Now that poor smoker looking to feed the habit is going to end up a tax cheat for getting cigarettes on the black market. And where do you think those black market butts come from? That’s right, the local liquor store that just got robbed, or the family man truck driver just hauling a load, or any of a number of other sources where cigarettes can be stolen.
Do you think that stopping smoking will save money in the long run? Do you think health care costs will decrease as a result? This may sound macabre, but this is reality. When the social security system was put in place, the average life span was no where near what it is now. Social security is about bankrupted now. Why? People are living longer. Add millions of ex-smokers who will now live to old age, and you have social securiy, medicare, and other health expenses that will result from old age. The implementers of the system did not foresee this coming. The issue is not only not being addressed, but the U.S. is looking to expand the population with talk of amnesty.
Oh well, it’s an easy tax. Who would fight for a smoker? Besides, Obama can afford it no matter how much it costs…