Friday, January 11, 2008

Increased Cigarette Tax Drives Smoking Down

It's been long known that as the cigarette tax goes up, usage goes down, especially among young smokers with the least earning power - - and that's all to the good.

Smoking cessation programs, whether hotlines or access to medication and counseling are also important to include with the coercive power of taxation.

Smoking is responsible for billions of dollars in social costs and many premature illnesses and deaths. Government needs to use its powers to reduce smoking - - not just taxation, but therapeutic programs, too.


Anonymous said...

As cigarette usage dwindles, so do our private property rights.

I'm glad that I can trade an inherent right, promised by the Constitution, for the (antecdotal) evidence of other people smoking less. Somehow that doesn't seem like an even trade to me.

Also, it's funny how taxation is used as such a deterrent in this case, yet income taxation supposedly doesn't deter investement and economic growth.

Forgive me if I don't quite follow Doyle's logic.

James Rowen said...

Well, there are limits to one's exercise of all rights, including property rights.

You can own a car, but you can't drive it at 100 miles an hour through a school zone.

You can own a plane, but you have to operate it according to altitude restrictions and a host of other rules and laws.

In most places, you can't open burn leaves and brush on your back yard.

You can procure alcohol, but you can't serve it at your kid's graduation party.

Becaue the exercise of your rights influences the circumstances of other people, and the society at large.

And the limitations change with the times, as knowledge or society's priorities change, too.

175 years ago, you could own other people as an extension of your proprty rights. Now you can't.

A generation ago, you could buy and operate a car and leave your seatbelt unbuckled without fear of being fined.

Now there is a fine. Things evolve, because society gets smarter.

Smoking is still a legal activity, but has. through science and experience, been determined to put non-smokers at risk of severe illness and death - - from second-hand smoke and cigarette-related fire/

Those negatie outcomes drive up the cost of health care and insurance policies, and cut productivity in the economy through lost time at work and shortened lifespans.

So your right to smoke is getting limited for reasons that are rational. You are not an island unto yourself. None of us are.

Smoking restrictions and taxes are not designed to punish you, and as I said, need to be matched with cessation programs.

Government's anti-smoking efforts are designed a) for the benefit of the larger socity, and b) to encourage you to quit - - benefiting you and those around you.