In an editorial in the current issue of the American Journal of Public Health, three former surgeons general?—C. Everett Koop, Julius Richmond, and Jesse Steinfeld?—emphasize "the tenacious hold of tobacco addiction on the user," declaring that "the vast majority of tobacco users lost their free choice when they became addicted as children." But as Mike Alissi notes, yesterday these three, joined by another former surgeon general, David Satcher, called for a $2-per-pack increase in the federal excise tax on cigarettes. A.P. reports "they predicted [the tax increase] would prompt at least 5 million smokers to quit."
In other words, people who can't break tobacco's tenacious hold suddenly find that they can when the price of cigarettes goes up. Apparently, the free choice that is lost when you start smoking can be restored through taxation. Only the fleeced are truly free.