Protect Vital Programs! Keep Smoking!


Michael Siegel catches anti-smoking groups in North Carolina pushing a $1 increase in the state cigarette tax with the argument that it won't be all that effective at reducing smoking. In a recent press release, the North Carolina Alliance for Health—which includes the state chapters of the American Cancer Society, the American Heart Association, and the American Lung Association—reassures legislators that the proposed tax hike will produce "a large, sustained increase in state tobacco tax revenues" that can be counted on to "protect vital programs like education and law enforcement from deep cuts" for many years to come. Siegel comments:

Instead of calling on measures to substantially reduce cigarette smoking so that cigarette tax revenues decline over time, the Alliance is committed to making sure that cigarette consumption does not drop too much, thereby threatening cigarette revenues….

A coalition of groups whose interest is supposed to be in protecting the public's health is instead primarily interested in using cigarette smokers as a source of funding for state programs and is committed to preserving the level of cigarette smoking so as not to threaten that funding.

This story reveals one of the chief problems associated with the anti-smoking groups' indiscriminate and knee-jerk support for all cigarette tax increases: the use of cigarette tax revenue to fund essential government programs makes the state dependent upon continued smoking to fund those programs, and it removes any incentive for programs that would substantially reduce smoking levels.

As I note in For Your Own Good, my book on the anti-smoking movement, modern activists who rail against tobacco while happily accepting the profits it produces are following a pattern set by King James I at the dawn of the 17th century.

NEXT: Go Ahead, Spit on Me. I Need the Vacation.

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  1. And while we’re at it, let’s ban e-cigs, which work exceptionally well, because God forbid harm-reduction even be on the radar.

    I really hate rabid anti-smokers.

    1. I hate Siegel’s nannyism, but at least he’s an honest nanny. These organizations should all be called out when they oppose e-cigarettes, but as long as preschool education is subsidized by smokes, nobody is going to call bullshit.

      1. The kicker is states that fund their medical programs like Medicaid with tobacco “sin taxes.”

        You wish to fund the program with something that is hazardous to health and wish to eradicate? WTF!?

        I never got that one. What do you do if all the smokers/dippers quite their habits tomorrow?

        1. They’d probably just double down on the alcohol taxes.

          1. Don’t you mean double up? Doubling down would imply a commitment to no further increases.

        2. Simple, just raise taxes on tobacco,or alcohol, or sex, or some other vice to make up for the loss

      2. but as long as preschool education is subsidized by smokes

        Taxes are fungible. The taxes ostensibly collected For Teh Children can and likely will be spent on something else, since if the cigarette tax is eliminated the legislature would likely continue funding the programs the taxes supposed to support.

        1. Yes legislators are famous for shell games like that. The state legislature here in GA has raided indigent defense fee funds, tobacco and lottery tax funds, etc. for all sorts of pork barrel projects that have nothing to do with the original justification for the fees/taxes in question.

    2. A bonus to to using an e-cigs is calling out and then making fun of the fake coughers. I really hate those self-righteous fucksticks. I can usually catch about one per week.

      1. I have yet to have one try that — actually, I get a lot of curiosity about ’em. And my husband has shown his off to however many people, who are interested.

        They’re more maintenance than a regular cigarette, but they taste and smell a whole lot better. And man, those are free market at work in beautiful ways — vendors and consumers are all very engaged, and there’s no oversight.

        Unfortunately, there doubtless will be in the future.

        1. I agree with most of that (the better taste part being the exception). Truth is, I haven’t been getting the one per week rate for about a month. It’s fallen off as people learn about the e-cigs existence. But for awhile there, it happened very frequently. Those people are truly meddling shitheads. My e-cigs are black with a blue light. The only people I catch fake coughing are too far away to even see the damn thing. I have a feeling though, that if I got one of the realistic ones, the number of self-righteous fucksticks would go back up.

  2. Or just buy everything online and avoid tobacco taxes.

    1. Bingo!

      1. Unfortunately states have been cracking down on this. You need to use money orders to avoid the transaction being traceable. My tobacconist described another customer who got hit up by IL for hundreds.
        And of course the Fed is trying to ban such sales period.

        1. Out here on the looney left coast, for the 1st time the 2009 Cali tax return had a box for usage tax but not many companies are sending customer info to the State. First year for this but they will get their poop in a group soon. Too bad tax collection is one of the things they do well.

  3. King James I introduced hypocrisy into the world? Who knew?!

  4. with the argument that it won’t be all that effective at reducing smoking.

    Except that’s not the press release says at all:

    “A $1.00 cigarette tax increase would prevent 84,000 North Carolina kids from becoming smokers and prompt 52,000 adult smokers to quit. It would also prevent more than 40,000 smoking caused deaths.

    I don’t have any particular passion for any of the several sides in this debate, but the press releases argument is plausible but ultimately depends on which side of the tobacco tax Laffer curve NC is currently on.

    1. That is, the argument that the tax increase would produce “a large, sustained increase in state tobacco tax revenues”.

    2. There’s also the possibility that the press release is a deliberate pack of lies.

      1. I’d love to know how they can calculate the number of people who won’t start smoking because of a $1 tax increase. My guess is they’re using the Outofmyass method or the Totallymadeupbullshit statistical process.

        1. Government knows that; they know they’ll make their money from it, too.

        2. price elasticity. a concept found in any basic econ text book.

  5. Right-wing libertarians who rail against taxes while happily availing themselves of the goods and services they provide are following a pattern set by the morons who wrote their sacred texts.

    1. Spring was never waiting for us, girl
      It ran one step ahead
      As we followed in the dance
      Between the parted pages and were pressed
      In love’s hot, fevered iron
      Like a striped pair of pants

      MacArthur Park is melting in the dark
      All the sweet, green icing flowing down
      Someone left the cake out in the rain
      I don’t think that I can take it
      ‘Cause it took so long to bake it
      And I’ll never have that recipe again
      Oh, no!

    2. Right-wing libertarians who rail against taxes while happily availing themselves of the goods and services they provide

      🙂 Spoken like a true John Edwards supporter – clueless of how a society generates goods and services, incapable of comprehending Bastiat’s dicta about looking for unseen effects of government policies, driven to hatred by envy & greed.

      Poor max. Would you like a hug?

      1. Raise taxes! Including mine! I’m stoopid!

  6. “A $1.00 cigarette tax increase would prevent 84,000 North Carolina kids from becoming smokers and prompt 52,000 adult smokers to quit. It would also prevent more than 40,000 smoking caused deaths. At the same time, the state would generate approximately $366.2 million in new annual revenue while realizing $1.9 billion in long-term health care savings.”

    And save or create 180,000 jobs.

    1. The chocolate ration will be increased to 25 grams in 2011!

      1. Double plus good!!

  7. “A $1.00 cigarette tax increase would prevent 84,000 North Carolina kids from becoming smokers and prompt 52,000 adult smokers to quit. It would also prevent more than 40,000 smoking caused deaths. At the same time, the state would generate approximately $366.2 million in new annual revenue”

    Note to Jacob Sullum: “a drop in cigarette use due to a huge tax increase that still causes a large increase in tax revenue” =/= “it won’t be all that effective at reducing smoking”

    Now, if your point were that these anti-smoking groups were lying to the legislature because they anticipate the tax increase might actually decrease tax revenue, fine.

    But, in the absence of that disclaimer, it gives the appearance that you’re lying to Reason readers to generate page hits.

  8. Fuck each and every non-smoker nazi health Nanny out there; and the tax they rode in on.

    1. Go suck Ron Paul’s cock, you brain-dead twit.

      1. I think what max is saying is that he wants a hug.

      2. I think what max is saying is that he wants a hug.

  9. The press release indicates the “study” shows smoking will drop significantly while revenues rise. I think their study is BS AND they are lying to the notoriously greedy Democrat-controlled North Carolina State legislature.

    1. Why wouldn’t smoking drop and revenues rise, you idiot? Higher taxes usually mean higher revenues, and fewer people tend buy stuff that gets more expensive. I thought you losertarians understood the fucking market. You just babble to babble, don’t you, moron?

      1. They say a $1 tax will raise $366.2 million, while causing over 50,000 people to stop smoking. That implies there are currently 366.25 million smokers in North Carolina.

        1. Let’s not get into the avergae IQ in North Carolina.

          1. Edward walked past the newsstand, and as his eyes glanced across the covers of Swank and 40 Something, he saw that there were copies of reason for sale.

            His blood began to boil, the bile rising in his acid-reflux scarred throat. He rushed to an alley and began heaving and puking, unable to get everything out. Sweating and shaking, he finally managed to bring up the remnants of the Milk Bone he had eaten earlier.

            He fell to his knees, shaking his fist at the sky, and screamed “DAMN YOU FUCKING LIBERTARD CUNTS!!!”, and began sobbing.

            The drunk homeless man who had been sleeping in the alley merely looked at him curiously and tried to go back to sleep.

          2. Max, there are days that with such erudite posts as yours, I think “Hmm, maybe Sanger and Holmes were on to something!”

            1. One generation of imbecile trolls is enough.

              I don’t think we need eugenics, though. I think nature will take care of any worry about Max breeding.

            2. No, it was Zager and Evans
              “Can’t tell the truth, can’t tell no lie
              Everything you think, do and say
              Is in the pill you took today”

          3. max is definitely begging for someone to care about him.

            He reminds me of someone I knew a long time ago who repeatedly faked suicide attempts as a plea for attention.

            Poor max. You’re not the only one John Edwards betrayed, but it hurts like he did it to you personally doesn’t it?

        2. Whoops. Realized they wouldn’t smoke just one pack per year.

          1. I replied too late 🙁

        3. it actually implies that 366.2 million packs are bought, or more specifically: would be bought after the increase, in NC per year, resulting in $366.2 million in additional revenue.

          To put that in perspective that’s an average of about 1 million smokers with a 1 pack per day habit.

      2. Only in Maxworld does “the fucking market” include the State signalling to people below a certain income that it knows how to run their lives better than they do.

        1. Of course, if you smoke cigarettes on a regular basis then the State probably does know how to run your life better than you do.

          1. I dunno if my sarcasmometer is broken, but knowing there are actually people who can write that sentence and mean it makes me weep. There is simply no middle ground between a thinking person and someone with such an extreme, fringe worship of the State.

  10. Cunts, every one of them.

  11. I, too, hate the nanny state…until I need the nanny state to take care of me when I get deathly ill at age 50.

    1. Nice try, Max, but not everyone is a whiner like you. I know this is outside your comprehension, but in the real world some (not many) people take responsibility for their actions.

      1. After all the taxes I have payed at age 50 the government may owe me health care. Get it from all the preschoolers I subsidized.

    2. Speaking of pulling data out of one’s ass…..
      Even the public health mafia’s numbers peg the net effect of smoking a pack a day at taking ~7 years off ones’ life. Life expectancy for the average murrican is a little more than 57 these days (unless you’re a retired NFL lineman, which IS about right).
      Most smokers don’t get cancer either. Yes, it is higher than the general population, but even for ‘chimneys’ it barely hits 20%, same for the catch all COPD.
      No, most smokers die from exactly the same diseases as nons, cardiovascular. And even though you don’t hear about it much, there’s plenty of debate amongst the docs on how much effect it has.

  12. Hey, not everybody can be perfect like you, Tonio. It must be frustrating to put up with us regular folk who occasionally make mistakes or need help from people.

    1. It must be VERY frustrating to not understand the difference betweeen the human tendency to make mistakes, and the childish tendency of some to deny responsibility for those mistakes…

  13. It reminds me of the common call to legalize pot so that it can be taxed. It’s all about more looting – everywhere, always.

    Maybe we should just skip the intermediate statist steps and go to the [near] end step: subsidize tobacco.

  14. Taxes on alcohol and tobacco? I just call them “full-employment acts for smugglers, bootleggers, and guys-who-sell-things-that-fall-off-the-backs-of-trucks.”

  15. The tobacco taxes and payments from the Master Settlement often subsidize the activities, hence the lifestyles, of anti-smoking professionals.

    Thus, smokers are forced to pay for their own persecution, and their persecutors.

    I sure would like to hear more outrage about such tyranny. No one’s cause merits such deference.

  16. It has been said by those wiser than I that there is NO ONE more addicted to tobacco than the governments.

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