The Most Expensive Ingredient in Cigarettes

The ABC affiliate in Albany reports that Gov. David Paterson and state legislative leaders have agreed on a $1.25-a-pack increase in New York's cigarette tax, making it $2.75. That will give New York the highest state cigarette tax in the country, surpassing New Jersey's rate of $2.57 a pack. Smokers who buy cigarettes in New York City pay an additional $1.50 a pack, so they will be shelling out $4.25 in state and city taxes, plus the 39-cent federal tax, for a total of $4.64 a pack.  They also have to pay sales tax, which in New York City is 8.38 percent. So a pack of cigarettes that would cost, say, $4 without taxes will cost New Yorkers more than $9, most of which will go into city, state, and federal coffers. In other words, the government will be taxing a product disproportionately consumed by poor people at an effective rate of more than 100 percent, reaping bigger profits than anyone else from a business it simultaneously condemns as the foremost threat to public health. It can get away with this punitive levy because the people it's bleeding are an unpopular minority with little political influence. And what do we call this policy? Progressive.

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  • Travis||

    I have never understood this they call private corporations evil & greedy for profiting off a product that gives people lung cancer, but the gov't is seen as loving & caring for profiting off a product that gives people lung cancer.

    How long do you think it wil be before black market smuggling in cigarettes becomes big buisness.

  • ||

    Jesus, $2.75 is what you pay for the pack TOTAL in Virginia!

  • Ska||

    Cue online Indian tobacco sales.

    How come truth* doesn't do commercials about this aspect of smoking?

  • Elemenope||

    And what do we call this policy? Progressive.

    What's this "we" thing, white man? I sure don't call it that. I call it "misguided" (if I'm feeling charitable) or "fucking stupid" (if I'm not).

    Even back in the dark days when I *was* a "progressive", I never thought sin taxes were anything other than stupid vestiges of puritan crap. Please try not to tar an entire movement for the foolish few. It would be like judging Libertarians by the John Birch Society...oh, wait...

  • GILMORE||

    How long do you think it wil be before black market smuggling in cigarettes becomes big buisness.

    It's already small-time business in parts of NYC.

    Fuck, man. I'm already planning to quit, but with costs like this, I'm going to have to switch over to cuban cigars and really high-quality crack cocaine.

  • ||

    I don't even spend that on food per day.

  • anon||

    actually many economists think smokers provide positive externalities to society - they pay into social security their whole lives and then die way before they can collect the old age insurance and medical insurance benefits that the elderly consume in large quantities from mid 60s through 80s or 90s otherwise.

  • JB||

    And Stalin talked about the "common good" while killing millions. People who use the terms "progressive", "common good", "for the children", etc. should not be trusted.

  • ts||

    thems be crack prices

  • Brandybuck||

    Please try not to tar an entire movement for the foolish few.



    The number of progressives you do not hate tobacco companies can be counted on one hand. The number of progressives you do not love taxes and be counted on the other hand. The number of progressives who think it's wrong to tax a product produced by Big Tobacco, who don't already smoke themselves, number in the low digits.

  • ||

    I'm thinking the Seneca Nation folks here in WNY are happy about this.

  • SIV||

    what Brandybuck said ....but with editing.

  • Paul||

    Damn that ever expanding war on drugs...

  • FRL||

    Great post Jacob. I rarely smoke cigarettes these days, but I collect my 2 free packs whenever the Camel girls come through the bar.

  • ||

    ,


    ... so if punitive taxation on cigarettes is the answer -- what was the original question ??

  • The Wine Commonsewer||

    Jacob, that was pretty much a perfect write-up. And yes, that's what all the finger wagging classes call it, progressive.

    Hard to believe, but when I used to get smokes in basic training, they were a quarter a pack at the PX.

    For those keeping track at home, that is an inflation adjusted current price of $1.27 a pack.

  • Peter||

    "How long do you think it wil be before black market smuggling in cigarettes becomes big buisness."

    Back in my old neighborhood there was routine black market cigarette sales (Jersey is a short drive from some of the cheaper southern states where you can buy in bulk).

    BTW ... WHO are the Camel girls and why have I not met them yet?

    Also, where did this statistic come from I keep hearing of that cigarettes are mostly only smoked by poor people. Granted, it may be true, and all I have is anecdotal evidence to the contrary, but where do we get that from. In my mind it wouldn't matter objectively, but I imagine that's problematic in that progressives and social engineers might latch onto a thing like that and say, the impoverished, unwashed, and un-educated masses are clearly more susceptible to predatory merchants of death, and need punitive measures such as this if only to guide them to a more healthful existence. Clearly, as one might use this dubious evidence to suggest, and as is compounded by the trend in home foreclosures, the poor and ignorant need shepherding and in some cases outright protection from the unscrupulous capitalist hucksters that are out to rob and murder them. If consistency were a virtue the reformers of late valued, I'd suggest they visit any number of legal and un-molested horse racetracks, whose betting forms' fine-print could baffle even the most savvy mortgage broker, and whose lawns, bars, and parking lots are menageries of economic despair abject as any Dorthea Lange exhibit.

  • M (anti-smoker & anti-gummint;||

    C'mon guys, you know (though imho also rightly disagree with) the rationale behind taxing a commodity whose consumption is understood to be bad for everyone. That tax, be it .1% or 10,000%, is intended to a) discourage the purchase and consumption of the unhealthy commodity and b) divert the consumer's discretionary assets to something that's putatively good for everyone, namely government.

    The idea is that if you've got money burning such a large hole in your pocket that you're prepared to spend it on poisoning yourself and those around you, you may as well contribute to The Common Good (as defined by your superiors in wisdom and virtue), which contribution you owe as compensation for a) your and your atmospheric neighbors' reduced participation in society due to lowered health and increased mortality, and b) the costs you impose on state-subsidized healthcare services.

    The tax is punitive for perceived foolishness and redistributive for inconsideration. That's my casual take on it, and I'm pretty sure you all knew that reasoning and that many of you could add a few features and 'splain it more elegantly, with formulae and such.

  • ||

  • ||

    Back in my old neighborhood there was routine black market cigarette sales (Jersey is a short drive from some of the cheaper southern states where you can buy in bulk).
    How much was the mark-up on the black market cigs? Because methinks driving up the price of cigarette taxes and buying black market might be a cost-saving opportunity.

  • LevStrauss||

    Taxes on a product that exceed the price of the product is just evil regardless of what it is. There should be a windfall profits law for government itself.

  • tb||

    at those prices if all smokers were not poor slobs before, they soon will be.

  • thoreau||

    Actually, I think I could accept a world where the only taxes were levied on cigarettes, oil, coal, and natural gas. The later 3 I'm OK with since they have externalities and are actually proxies for the level of economic activity (every economic activity requires energy). So just tax a key input to the activity and be done with it. Whatever people do with those products, and whatever profit they earn from those activities, is theirs to keep.

    As to cigarettes, yeah, maybe I'm just a moralist here, but I'd rather tax something harmful than something productive.

  • ||

    The tax is punitive for perceived foolishness and re-distributive for inconsideration.

    It is not the role of government to guide people's lives. The idea that a bureaucrat knows what it is in my best interests is pure conceit, good intentions notwithstanding.

    The taxes on cigarettes exist as nothing more than rent-seeking by part of the government. If the bureaucrats really wanted to impose their will upon smokers, they would have made it illegal to buy or manufacture cigarettes. The fact that the taxes are a good source of income makes it evident that bureaucrats are little interested in people's health, and more interested in control and rent-seeking. That is called fascism, by the way.

  • Abdul||

    It can get away with this punitive levy because the people it's bleeding are an unpopular minority with little political influence.

    Hey, Obama is a very popular minority with a lot of political influence!

  • ||

    Actually, I think I could accept a world where the only taxes were levied on cigarettes, oil, coal, and natural gas.

    You will be on the list of people to put against the wall when the revolution comes.

    All jokes aside, just because you would accept such a thing does not give it validity. Coercive measures that limit or restrain people's freedom are the instruments of tyrants.

  • ||

    As to cigarettes, yeah, maybe I'm just a moralist here, but I'd rather tax something harmful than something productive.

    It's not up to you. Also, you are describing a false dichotomy - it is not taxing this or taxing that: taxing is robbery, good intentions notwithstanding.

  • thoreau||

    Francisco Torres-

    Fine, but given that we're going to live in a world where there are taxes, which taxes will distort economic activity (i.e. harm prosperity and commerce) the least? I'd argue that taxes levied in the simplest manner, and on items that produce negative externalities, are the ones least harmful to prosperity and commerce.

  • ||

    You realize that this is also to be coupled on a tax hike on malt liquor, another questionably healthy product primarily enjoyed by the poor.

  • M||

    Franciso Torres, ya gotta pernt at 8:16pm, paragraph 2, et passim.

    But to say that

    It is not the role of government to guide people's lives.


    (which I fear is exactly its role, just as the role of mosquitoes is to bite people) makes me want to ask, What then is the role of government?

  • ed||

    the government will be taxing a product disproportionately consumed by poor people

    So sorry to see a libertarian site stooping to classic lefty strategies to make a point.

  • Mike Laursen||

    And I bet they'll be surprised if they make less revenue from the cigarette tax with the higher rate.

  • joe||

    Whose taxes do you want to raise to get rid of it?

    Yeah, the poor people you don't actually give a fuck about might buy fewer cigs. Damn shame, that.

    Whose taxes you raise instead? Didn't think so.

    Don't break any arms patting yourself on the back for your compassion.

  • smugglerblue||

    All I know is that I have a truckload of cheap cigarettes and am heading for NY!

  • Elemenope||

    So sorry to see a libertarian site stooping to classic lefty strategies to make a point.

    If pointing out an obvious, if inconvenient, truth is "lefty strategies", then yeah, I guess.

    re: thoreau

    Why not just go whole hog and switch over to an energy credit currency?

    That is called fascism, by the way.

    No, it isn't. Fascism has a complicated and much argued over definition, but yours isn't a commonly accepted one.

    The number of progressives you do not hate tobacco companies can be counted on one hand. The number of progressives you do not love taxes and be counted on the other hand. The number of progressives who think it's wrong to tax a product produced by Big Tobacco, who don't already smoke themselves, number in the low digits.

    Please. *Most* of my lefty friends think that sin taxes are fucking silly. In fact, the only people who are "finger waggers" that I have heard personally propose such foolishness were on the hard right...though with them it usually isn't cigarettes, it's alcohol.

  • ||

    And Stalin talked about the "common good" while killing millions. People who use the terms "progressive", "common good", "for the children", etc. should not be trusted.

    Pig Mannix's First Law of Social Benefit: The amount of noise an individual makes about "the Good of Society" will be inverse to the value that individual contributes to society themselves.

  • ||

    Cigarettes are evil. We know that because we're smarter and cooler than you. Now for some pointless, self-indulgent performance art...

  • ||

    Smokers are the current sitting ducks. Fat people will be next. Following that will be diabetics.

    How easy it is to make sound and fury about an unpopular minority in order to appear to improve health and fund education (or whatever putative recipient of sin tax).

    Apparently no lessons learned from prohibition.

    Smoke on, drink on, jog on, watch TV, eat Twinkies and plain do what you enjoy.

  • ed||

    Fat people will be next

    Point taken, but you're behind the curve. We're well past the conceptuals.
    The New Health Ministers are interested in body mass, not brain mass.

  • ||

    Cue feeling like a dinosaur - I started my first job behind a cash register the day cigarettes went up to 47 cents a pack. If any of the people that ripped me a new one that day (because the high school kid behind the counter decides all the prices) are still around, I can't even imagine what they think now.

    Inflation adjustment - at the time, it was about the price of a gallon of gas.

  • ed||

    The year 200 was a very bad year indeed.

  • Tertullian||

    Not for me. Life begins at forty.

  • Tommy Chong||

    Man! Thank God I smoke pot. I couldn't afford cigarettes, man.

  • alan||

    If it weren't for the price of gasoline. I could get so rich loading up my car with cartons of cigarettes here in Carolina and selling them in New York. BTW, Henry Hill (Goodfellas) began his criminal career doing exactly that.

  • Daniel Reeves||

    Cue online Indian tobacco sales.


    Everybody does that in New Jersey. That or they go to Deleware to buy cigarettes. The state is actually trying to crack down and force people to pay taxes on online orders, regardless.

    Laffer curve: you've gotta love it.

    And contrary to what Pigouvian taxes are supposed to do, people are still smoking!

    Aaaaaah, politicians are clueless.

  • Daniel Reeves||

    As to cigarettes, yeah, maybe I'm just a moralist here, but I'd rather tax something harmful than something productive.



    Who are you to say what's "moral" or what people "should" do to themselves? That's the kind of logic that has banned every other drug, just taken to a higher extreme.

    Cigarettes provide diminutive externalities; certainly not as bad as carbon emissions. IMO there really isn't a reason to tax them above .05 a carton. Yeah, I think .05 makes up for all of the externalities, but that's just me.

  • ||

    Uhhg. The "TRUTH" anti-smoking people were doing a huge stunt on my campus today. They were lining the sidewalk with lots of empty shoes to symbolize all the people who died in Ohio today from smoking.

    Apparently 687 trillion Ohioans are killed every day by BIG TOBACCO

  • Mike Laursen||

    Whose taxes do you want to raise to get rid of it? ... etc.

    joe, who were you replying to with that comment?

  • Kenobi||

    Taxes on a product that exceed the price of the product is just evil regardless of what it is.

    99% Robbery--good or morally neutral.

    101% Robbery--pure evil.

    Maybe we should allow slavery again, but just make sure that owner's don't take more than 75% of their slaves' income--because that would be evil.

    Also on the topic of smoking bans:

    Enacting city smoking bans appears to increase drunken driving, a study of arrests conducted by Wisconsin researchers asserts.
    A national study to be released by the Journal of Public Economics found an increase of fatal accidents involving alcohol after communities prohibited smoking, compared to arrests in communities without a ban.

    The authors attribute that to people driving to places without a ban, and also to driving farther to find a place within a ban area that has an outdoor smoking accommodation, such as a patio.

    "The increased miles driven by drivers who wish to smoke and drink offsets any reduction in driving from smokers choosing to stay home after a ban, resulting in increased alcohol-related accidents," the study says.


    http://www.madison.com/tct/mad/topstories/280154

  • ||

    Let's see, since the first thing NY should do (cut spending, lay off the swat team in Cooperstown) won't happen, I gotta ask:

    For me it's a 70-mile roundtripper to the nearest VA tabaccy outlet. They limit to six of each on cartons, but I can hit two more outlets just down the road on either US-15 or U.S. 340 (depending on my mood.)

    So, I can easily score 50-60 cartons, and would have no problem toting that many on the Chinese bus (have previously brought 3 boxes of books, weighing in excess of 100 pounds, no questions asked; guessing 20 cartons to a box here, maybe put a few books on top).

    Gas: 3 gallons tops, $10.
    Bus: $35 round-trip, budget $40 just in case the Chinese are goofy.
    Cigs: $25-28 a carton, with tax.

    I only know lower Manhattan, and Park Slope-ish Brooklyn.

    What can I sell them for, and where?

    Also, should I buy Newports or just Marlboro? Newports are always more, but I sometimes get gifts for the homeless/petty grafters near my house in MD.

  • ||

    The "TRUTH" anti-smoking people were doing a huge stunt on my campus today.

    I don't smoke cigarettes, never have. But when I see those smug assholes, I just wanna start puffing away on Marlboros until I drop dead in the street.

  • ||

    taxing is robbery

    It's no taxation without representation, not no taxation. You have representation; use it.

  • Bingo||

    Where the hell is Weigel with the weekend thread! Goddamn that cosmo slacker.

  • Kenobi||

    It's no taxation without representation, not no taxation. You have representation; use it.

    What? A slogan from the late eighteenth century is proof that taxes are just?

    I'm sure that "representation" does a lot of good when they throw you in the butt-rape warehouses for committing the iniquity of daring to keep your property. And I'm sure all of my state representatives and senators are all very helpful and concerned when I try to act as though I'm not the slave of the police and defend myself with force when they come to kidnap me for witholding the fruits of my labor from them.

  • Paul Lockett||

    taxing is robbery, good intentions notwithstanding

    In the example of taxes on cigarettes, oil, coal, and natural gas, I would agree with you on the tax on cigarettes, as that involves placing a cost on a man made good.

    With regard to the other three, I think the geo-libertarian argument that, as they are natural resources they have no rightful owner and therefore anybody using them should compensate everybody else for denying them the opportunity to, places doubt on the robbery argument.

  • jtuf||

    First, government but out of people's right to make their own drug choices. Second, nicotine does not cause cancer, the other stuff in tobacco does. Anti-smoking advocates should just make a non-profit that provides nicotine alternatives (gum, patches, ect.) for recreational use.

  • GuyInCT||

    Of course now it is in the interests of New York State to get more people to smoke, or at least to get current smokers to smoke more. How long will it be before we find some state bureaucracy surreptitiously trying to do just that?

  • ||

    joe, who were you replying to with that comment?

    just pavlovian, i doubt he had a specific target.

  • ||

    Try rolling your own cigarettes. My husband buys loose tobacco & you can buy empty cigarette tubes (filter included) for like $1.90 for 200 of them. When it's all said & done, he winds up paying about $10.00 a carton. It's kind of messy, but it gets the job done.

  • NY voter||

    Good thing all their nanny state laws have made me a scofflaw for life.

    I'll just buy my smokes form the white van in front of the bodega down the street for $5 per pack.

  • Rhywun||

    Don't forget, Bloomie's been making noise about raising his tax, too; I think another $1.50. Folks, this is all about money. Anything else they say is a bald-faced lie and even most New Yorkers know it. (The best thing Spitzer accomplished was putting heavy media focus on just how corrupt our state government is. Now it's an emerging story that our city council has been skimming money off the top to hand out to favored organizations: hopefully a nice dirty scandal will come out of this in order to shed light on that corrupt gang.) Elected officials are bitching and moaning about budget gaps even more than usual and the sense I get is that people are sick and tired of hearing it. Everybody knows the governments are bloated beyond belief but nobody seems to want to do anything about it (yet). But you also have to remember that our economy (at least in NYC) is so distorted that ten bucks for a pack of cigarettes is no big deal to most people. That's why they keep getting away with this shit.

    So sorry to see a libertarian site stooping to classic lefty strategies to make a point.

    The point isn't to feel sorry for poor people, it's to point out the hypocrisy of "progressives" who claim to have their best interests at heart.

    Also, should I buy Newports or just Marlboro?

    Newports are menthol only. Get Marlboros: anyone will buy those.

  • ||

    As to cigarettes, yeah, maybe I'm just a moralist here, but I'd rather tax something harmful than something productive.

    Beer, wine and liquor taxes? The studies I've seen indicate that alcohol taxes bring in less than the social costs of drinking. Cigarette taxes bring in more. Honestly, is your position grounded on morality or "not my ox" thinking?

  • ||

    Of course now it is in the interests of New York State to get more people to smoke, or at least to get current smokers to smoke more. How long will it be before we find some state bureaucracy surreptitiously trying to do just that?

    Seen any lottery ads lately?

  • Travis||

    My state has an organization called JEL(Just Eliminate Lies) that is paid for by the state taxpayers & tells people about the evils of tobacco. JEL has been caught numerous times lying. They had a girl in a TV commercial talking about how cigarettes killed her grandmother. Turns out the picture they showed in the commercial wasn't the girls grandmother nor was this girls grandmother dead.

  • First Little Pig||

    Around here, most people who smoke roll their own. This avoids the tax on a pack and gives them a hobby (rolling)... And for some, it gives cover for also smoking pot... but for most, they just roll their own tobacco ciggys.

  • Daniel Reeves||

    99% Robbery--good or morally neutral.

    101% Robbery--pure evil.

    Maybe we should allow slavery again, but just make sure that owner's don't take more than 75% of their slaves' income--because that would be evil.


    That was an unthinkably retarded argument because a) you don't actually mean anything by saying "n% robbery" and b) he never said that all taxes below 100% are good.

    "a -> b" does not translate to "~a -> ~b."

    Good counterexample: killing more than two innocent people is always evil. But that doesn't mean killing one innocent person is always or ever good; in fact, it is also always evil.

  • ||

    all i mean all goverment leaders should be drug from thiere offices and hung .while we install new workers who are responsible to the people .in thiere offices should be a picture of the guy before them hanging from a tree with thiere familys looking up at those lowlifes .end of crooked goverment employes this should start at the top of the goverment food chain

  • ||

    Nobody is innocent. Kill 'em all.

  • ||

    I have to say, I'm all for this tax. Just like casinos and lotteries, this is a completely voluntary tax which is levied only on idiots. And it doesn't hurt them because if they weren't wasting their money on one thing you can bet they'd be wasting it on something else. Better than pulling money out of my pay check.

  • ||

    [ "...this is a completely voluntary tax.."]


    ...the cigarette tax is NOT voluntary. It is a 3rd-party mandate imposed on independent Buyer-Seller agreements.

    All retail purchase decisions for any product are ultimately 'voluntary' ... but taxes ain't.

    The outrageous cigarette tax is clearly punitive -- a government "punishment" for the "crime" of legally selling a perfectly legal product in New York. Extortion-level cigarette taxes are no longer 'taxes' -- they are punitive "fines".

    But how can the government legally impose such punishment for a crime that was never prosecuted judicially, nor for which the 'criminals' were never convicted (??)

    Both the U.S. and New York Constitutions expressly guarantee judicial due process, habeas corpus, etc. for criminal & civil procedures.

    Where do New York politicians get the legal authority to levy such individual punishments against cigarette buyers/sellers (??) .... same place muggers get their authority to take your wallet & watch.

    ______

  • SmokyJoe||

    FLP,

    I also have been growing my own tobacco and rolling my own cig's for a while. But then that might be a little harder if I lived in NYC.

    I surprised they haven't started to tax the shit out of my roll paper. Once more people start rolling their own, that will be the next thing.

  • Chad||

    "As to cigarettes, yeah, maybe I'm just a moralist here, but I'd rather tax something harmful than something productive."

    That's fine. Go right ahead. But that logic only works based on the actual externalities of the "harmful" behavior. Actual studies of the externalities of smoking are around fifty cents a pack, not several dollars.

    To be clear, let's define a "harmful" behavior as one that on net hurts society (you not included), a "helpful" behavior that on net benefits society (you not included) and a "private" behavior one that has little or no net impact on anyone but you.

    Well, if smoking a pack harms society by 50 cents, it is a harmful behavior. But if there is a two dollar tax per pack, it is now a HELPFUL behavior...society suffers 50 cents of damage but gets paid two bucks for the bother! As soon as the tax exceeds the externality, the behavior is now "helpful" to society, and your justification for further taxation disappears.

    The tax on cigarettes should be based on actual harm. Anything else is immoral.

  • ||

    Most smokers nowadays are gay... not that there's anything wrong with that!!

  • The Wine Commonsewer||

    The biggest bummer of the anti-cigarette movement is that no bar or restaurant has custom made matchbooks anymore. I love matchbooks. I have a nice little collection (including matches from the El Rancho Vegas that burned down in 1961). You know what you get today when you aske the bartender for a book of matches? After the dirty look I mean. If you're lucky, they give you a generic matchbook that with a picture of a flag on it.

    In five years, the only place I've dined that had a matchbook is the Fish House. Lucille's BBQ (MMMMMMM!) has a nice ringer, but it's filled with toothpicks.

    See Lileks: For our matchless friends, for a nice collection.

  • Iggy||

    Most smokers nowadays are gay

    Smokin' the White Owl?

  • The Wine Commonsewer||

    this is a completely voluntary tax which is levied only on idiots........... Better than pulling money out of my pay check.

    Pulling money out of your paycheck is a completely voluntary tax levied on people who choose to work. Stay home and grow vegetables, raise cows and chickens, and you won't have to pay that tax.

  • ||

    "I have to say, I'm all for this tax. Just like casinos and lotteries, this is a completely voluntary tax which is levied only on idiots. And it doesn't hurt them because if they weren't wasting their money on one thing you can bet they'd be wasting it on something else. Better than pulling money out of my pay check."

    Once there is more money in the state coffers, government services will expand in order to spend that money. Then when smoking decreases (as is the goal of such taxes), they will start taking more out of your paycheck to cover the shortfall. I guess the idea is to starve the beast with hamburgers and steroids.

  • ||

    Before law school I worked in the NYS Assembly. My boss wanted a bill that would take "windfall" profits from oil companies by placing a cap on what fuel retailers could charge at the pump. I explained the economics of price caps and suggested that instead we introduce a bill that would cap the government taxes on fuel. ex. that the government could only tax the first $2 of a gallon of gas. This would protect constituents from the government's windfall taxes. Needless to say this idea did not gain much traction with other Members and so was not introduced. (although I am pleased to say that my boss listened to "reason.")

    Now I am a lobbyist. (ie. an educator that explains to government officials why some ideas are bad and how we can make policy that is pro people and business)

  • Wicks Cherrycoke||

    From the Law of Unintended Consequences File: This week's Economist Magazine reports a study showing the American counties which have adopted smoking bans have seen substantial increases in drunk driving fatalities. It seems that committed smokers will travel significant distances to watering holes that permit smoking, with the predictable results.

    Link to story: http://www.economist.com/world/na/displaystory.cfm?story_id=10966152

  • Mike Laursen||

    Kudos to your boss for listening to reason. Even though we can all be pretty cynical about legislators, I suppose there are always some lawmakers that will listen.

  • dhex||

    Don't break any arms patting yourself on the back for your compassion.

    oh ho ho.

    joe, don't ever change.

  • Christ on a Cracker||

    Whose taxes do you want to raise to get rid of it?

    Yeah, the poor people you don't actually give a fuck about might buy fewer cigs. Damn shame, that.

    Whose taxes you raise instead? Didn't think so.

    Don't break any arms patting yourself on the back for your compassion.


    Maybe the gov'mt could just spend less money. Maybe?

    Didn't think so.

    CoC

  • LarryA||

    How long do you think it will be before black market smuggling in cigarettes becomes big business.

    C 1990.

    Hard to believe, but when I used to get smokes in basic training, they were a quarter a pack at the PX.

    Back when I was in the infantry they were free with the C-rations. Four or five cigs/meal.

    makes me want to ask, What then is the role of government?

    Answered that one in 1776.

    We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness. That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed. That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.


  • MJ||

    "...it is well-documented that cigarette taxes reduce disease and death by making smokes unaffordable to the poor. So we do this for their own good." - Mike Thomas, Orlando Sentinel

    http://www.orlandosentinel.com/news/columnists/orl-miket2708mar27,0,7908176.column

    What can make a liberal favor a tax that's going to affect the poor more than anyone else? A pure hatred of the type of business which supplies the product or service coupled with a self-righteous, arrogant, moral paternalism that would put the most puritanical fundamentalist preacher to shame.

  • ||

    ...a self-righteous, arrogant, moral paternalism that would put the most puritanical fundamentalist preacher to shame.

    Well said.

  • Eddy||

    "what was the original question ??"

    It goes something like this;
    "How can we, as the legislative oligarchy, gain money and power, fleece critizens and be seen as doing good by the inattentive so we can keep our lazy asses from doing real work?"

  • The Wine Commonsewer||

    Back when I was in the infantry they were free with the C-rations. Four or five cigs/meal.

    That's right, forgot about that. Seemed like they were always unfiltered Pall Malls. Also seems like anybody who got Marlboros could swap them for about anything, including more food. :-)

    I was in the Air Wing so didn't spend much time eating C-Rations, but I have had a few.

  • ||

    This doesn't bother me so much in principle, although this particular level of tax may be excessive. Because there's externalities from smoking that we all pay for. All the butts littering the street and second hand smoke.

    And I think this would be the right approach for marijuana: legalize and tax. Whatever else one might say, this is a better system than prohibition. Same thing with gambling and prostitution I say: legalize and tax. It's better than prohibition.

  • LarryA||

    And I think this would be the right approach for marijuana: legalize and tax. Whatever else one might say, this is a better system than prohibition. Same thing with gambling and prostitution I say: legalize and tax. It's better than prohibition.

    Except at this level of taxation you have the evils of both. The government gets hooked on the cash, and the rate is close enough to prohibition to enable a black market.

    Why don't we just legalize drugs, prostitution, and gambling and subject them to the same regulation as any other voluntary contract. And then reduce the regulation of voluntary contracts.

    "Senator, your bill for three hours will be $4,000 plus 7% sales tax. Cash, check, or credit card?"

  • ||

    Whose taxes do you want to raise to get rid of it?

    I guess cutting spending is out of the question.

  • appending_doom||

    'Fine, but given that we're going to live in a world where there are taxes, which taxes will distort economic activity (i.e. harm prosperity and commerce) the least? I'd argue that taxes levied in the simplest manner, and on items that produce negative externalities, are the ones least harmful to prosperity and commerce.'


    If your tax is for the purpose of raising money, the "least harmful" tax is a small tax on as wide a base as possible.

    If your goal is reducing social harm, the "least harmful" tax is equal to the average harm inflicted by the consumption of the product.

    Taxing any neutral product is harmful to society; taxing any harmful product beyond the value of its externality to society is equally harmful.

    Given that, it's generally held to be 'less harmful' to tax highly inelastic goods, because at that point, you're not distorting consumption of that good, but simply transfering money (rents).

    Regardless, however, a high tax on a single good isn't remotely close to a good tax, unless it can be demonstrated that the tax is to match the harm of the good.

  • ||

    If we take away peoples ability to self medicate won’t that cause a rise in crime? Which would be worse for nonsmokers health when a smoker snaps due to lack of “medication” or has to commit a crime to fund the addiction?
    Prohibition indeed
    1 Bottle of pills for anger management w/o insurance is about $50.00 U.S.
    Will people who take prozac or anafranil ever be in a position where they will have to steel just to pay for medication that keeps them sane?
    My smoking 50 feet away from all buildings does no more damage to nonsmokers then taking pills and paying for shrinks.

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