Philly deciding another cigarette tax…

When will they figure it out?  Cigarette taxes are widely accepted because it’s really easy- Easy to collect money, and easy to gain public support, because most people view smoking as  bad, dangerous, and are likely to scowl when passing a smoker and their terrible second hand smoke.

Cigarettes are taxed in the USA by about 45% on average, which varies by state, of course.

The good news is that cigarette taxes are proven to reduce smoking.  Every time they raise the taxes, more smokers quit.  Unfortunately, the good news stops there.

We seem to be overlooking the bigger picture.  Where do those taxes go?  Why do they keep raising them?

Well, for starters, those taxes were supposed to go towards cessation programs and education for children warning of the dangers of smoking.  Where they actually go is almost shocking.  In New York, the taxes pay for dump trucks, golf carts, and a public jail.  In Virginia, they go towards building a broadband cable infrastructure.  That’s right, a for-profit company is using your tax money to enhance their future bottom line, further at your expense.

Why do you care, right?  You aren’t likely a smoker.  Well you should care, because you still pay for it anyways.  Those programs that are supposed to be funded by smokers- well those programs still exist, and are being funded by you.  Not only that, but across the country so many other programs are also funded by smokers.  Everything from medicaid, to transit, to museums.  And guess what else?  Those programs require more money to run as inflation climbs from year to year.  It’s also worth noting that the childhood education programs against smoking are among the most severely under-funded in nearly all states- More on that later…

Not only do existing costs rise, but the fundamental flaw exists in cigarette taxes, and they literally flaunt it in our faces:  That every time they raise the taxes, more people quit.  They praise it as a good thing, yet, necessary public programs now depend on that tax money.  The state now finds themselves in the contradictory position of needing people to smoke.

This creates quite the dilemma, doesn’t it?  It becomes a revolving door of consistent tax raising on top of rising costs.  Guess who supplements the lost tax revenue?  Yep, thank your critical thinking process for leading you to the conclusion:  you pay.  I pay.  We all pay.

Of course, there’s always an initial surge of cash when the tax is first implemented.  That’s what they are counting on.  And what will they do with that stockpile of cash?  Will they sit on it to fund the downswing later?  Nope.  They will use that cash to fund all new programs and political pet projects, creating an ever-more siphon on the taxpayers and smokers alike.

Now.. Back to that problem with the states needing people to smoke.  Guess who else needs people to smoke?  All those large corporations who make cessation products.  Nic Patches, Chantix, nic gum.. you name it, they are all now large companies, including the powerhouse big pharma now with a horse in the race.  Guess who has lobbyists now in both state and federal congresses?  What do they accomplish, if not stopping tax increases?

Again, the deeper we look, the stranger it gets.  But don’t be discouraged.  I’ve found in this world that truth is exposed by following the money (and bypassing the lies and propaganda that moneyed interests spout).  Those lobbyists and other interests sure have managed to make sure that children are not properly educated on the dangers, for starters.  They make sure cigarettes aren’t completely banned, which they absolutely would be if the democratic process played it’s role.  Like I said in my first paragraph- most people despise smokers and smoking.. popular consensus would certainly mandate abolishing smoking if given the chance.

Now personally- I’m a reformed smoker, and active “vaper”.  I’ve discovered electronic cigarettes and actually prefer them to smoking.  They are safe, economic, and currently taxed at merchandise rates (not for long!).  The state of electronic cigarettes will be a new post on it’s own, but safe to say, I’m not adverse to smokers- I’m more of a live and let live guy.

But here’s the part of the page where things get real.

What happens when everyone quits.  They’ve proven that raising taxes makes people quit. The will continue to slowly raise the taxes, and slowly, more and more people will quit.  It’s simple mathematics.  Not everyone will quit, but the current “success” in tax-raising has shown us that most will.  Nearly all will, especially if the economy doesn’t return with a vengeance enough to restore the middle class and lift 90% of poor into the middle classes- and that’s probably not going to happen in my lifetime, or yours.

So, what happens you wonder?  Well, their primary reason for raising cigarette taxes was simple:  They are bad for you.  Well, when they are no longer sustainable as a tax pool, they will go to the next thing in line.  What is that, I wonder?  Potato chips?  Red meat?  Fast food?  The list of possibilities is endless.

And that’s how politicians and corporations see your wallet / pocketbook- an endless supply of money.  They pay you wages and social security, then conspire on how to take it all back.

What’s the solution?  I don’t know.  I just know what I see- that we’re all paying for it.  Today we pay, and tomorrow we will pay even more.  All of us, except that 1% of course.  When you can afford to hide your money offshore and dodge taxes with loopholes, this becomes everyone else’s problem.