Smoking Bans

Hacker Curve: Quitting Smoking Is Bad for The Children


Lady Gaga does her part for California early education.

California's use of taxes on smokers to fund pipe-dream programs for kids may finally cause state-run charities to cough up a lung.

First 5 California, the universal pre-school brainchild of Hollywood triple threat Rob Reiner, has been flush with revenues stemming from a 1998 initiative that laid a new tax on cigarette sales and funneled that money into a school-for-tots scheme. Taxes like these are always sold as a win-win: They discourage smoking while raising revenues for a good cause. But the combination of state and federal taxes is starting to do more of the former than the latter, as smokers quit, cut back, or start buying smokes out of state. It's the Laffer Curve in reverse: If you tax something out of existence, you won't get anymore revenue from it, and then taxpayers will have to cover your commitments. The Inland Valley Daily Bulletin reports:

First 5 organizations benefit from Proposition 10, which went on the books in 1998 and allocates 50 cents from the sale of every cigarette pack to providing services to children in the first five years of their lives. Prop. 10 actually led to the creation of the First 5 initiative.

These organizations are nervously watching the impact of a federal cigarette tax boost, which took effect April 1, 2009. It was a 62 cent-per- pack increase to $1.01, which doubled the previous federal tax.

The state tax is 87 cents, and that includes Prop. 10 and Prop. 99, another item that uses money from cigarette sales for health and education programs, said Anita Gore, spokeswoman for the California Board of Equalization.

Then, there's a sales tax.

In parts of San Bernardino County, the out-the-door price for a pack of Marlboros can range from $5.35 to $6.80.

Cigarette tax revenues have been down a little more than 10 percent since the federal tax was increased, Scott said.

In 2002, I wrote about how the Prop 10/First 5 campaign turned the Meathead into a political power in California—and how declining tobacco revenues would eventually leave taxpayers on the hook for programs based on the scientifically dubious "first five years" movement. In 2006, Reiner's political career came crashing down when he had to resign his post at First 5 in the face of a $23 million misappropriation scandal. Chris Reed of the San Diego Union-Tribune wonders whether Reiner should be facing criminal charges over those old high jinx.

NEXT: Ebert's Libertarian Temptation

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  1. “He just goes around imposing his will on people–he’s my idol.”

    1. Chris Reed of the San Diego Union-Tribune wonders whether Reiner should be facing criminal charges over those old high jinx.

      “Oh, Goddamnit, do I have to explain this again? Smoking is bad, people! So if we have to be a little extreme to stop it, it’s okay!”

      1. Yes smoking might be considered bad for people but so is driving a car because of the many automobile accidents, so is mountain climbing because of the dangers if imminent death from falling,so is many things that individuals do but they do it because they enjoy it, Government has no business being involved in personal choices of people or increasing the taxes of the things that people enjoy doing. Personal choice should trump government legislation,as long as that personal choice doesn’t harm anyone else.Some non-smokers claim they have the right to breathe fresh air, but this is also a fallacy because as long as there are and have been active Valcanos, automobiles,facteries,campfires,outside grills, or other sources of air polution non-smokers will never be able to breathe totally smoke free air, and most items listed above have always been in existance and will never go away. That is why I say that non-smnokers having a right to breathe totally fresh air is a total fallacy.

  2. Tobacco should be legal and free!

    1. I agree with you Van. Government has no business taxing a product at all. Government and private business doesn’t mix, that is why our nation is in such a decline as it currently is in. Government wants it impose it’s authoritarian will on all businesses and these actions should be abolished and allow businesses to grow and flourish at it’s own speed without any government imposition.

  3. Lighten up, Tim. This is all part of my plan to get MJ legalized.

    1. Right… so you can tax it until it costs more than HGH, “for teh childrenz.”

      There is a special level of hell reserved for you.

    2. I agree with you Rob, MJ should not only be legalized it should never have been made illegal to begin with.

  4. There are plenty of other unhealthy things that can be utilized for public revenue. Potato chips, non-diet soda, candy, chocolate, cheese whiz, ice cream, flavored green tea, corn dogs, the list goes on and on. Once people stop indulging in one bad habit, we move onto the next. It’s one of the “good” things about being the only industrialized country in the world with such an unhealthy lifestyle.

    But first, the people who cheat children out of money by buying cigarettes through unauthorized channels need to be sent a painful massage.

    1. Can we tax dumbass trolling?

      1. There’s nothing unhealthy about giving voice to alternative points of view instead of inbreeding.

        1. And look what inbreeding got us.

        2. So…yes?

    2. What if I get off on painful massages?

    3. But first, the people who cheat children out of money by buying cigarettes through unauthorized channels need to be sent a painful massage.

      Release the Second Chakra!

    4. Fucking Mongorians!

    5. Hobie Hanson, you’re weird.

    6. The individual should be the only one in determining what a healthy lifestyle is not government agencies. If a person chooses to eat junk food that is their personal choice just as it is their personal choice to smoke, drink, or anything else that they choose to do including using MJ. Government needs to get out of the business of imposing their will on personal lifestyle choices.If the government outlaws or totally bans smoking, eating junk food or drinking is the government telling people that they will live forever? No, Of course not. That is exactly my point, people only live for a certain ammount of time anyway and the way they choose to live their lives is none of the governments business.

  5. Ima start a tobacco crop in the basement right next to the meth lab. That’ll learn ’em…

  6. Hollywood triple threat Rob Reiner

    Actor, director, douchenozzle?

    1. milk out my nose funny…

  7. Lady GaGa – great artist or greatest artist?

      1. pass

      2. So, just great then?

    1. You have to admire her courage in taking a name that resembles the sound she was making doing the activity that made her a star.

      1. Celebrity cums with a price, my Dear GaGa. Granted, in my case, it is a large price to pay, but will reap many, many benefits. I’m a starmaker and that’s what I do and all we hear is Radio GaGa. (Don’t worry, I’ll take care of the copyright infringement: I know people!)

        1. Look who’s stalking!

        2. I should probably be careful what I say — according to Forbes, Gaga is the 4th most powerful celebrity on the planet, after Oprah, Beyonce, and James Cameron. Apparently Obama isn’t a celebrity anymore.

      2. oof, tulpa, that was lame.

        1. Take the good with the bad, yo.

    2. Either Gaga is a genius or someone behind her is a genius.

  8. Hey, I like that picture. It looks like a cigarette bomber!!

  9. A good alternative to smoking might be the Electronic cigarette. This device feels just like a cigarette and yet only contains 16 chemicals, contrary to the 4000 chemicals in regular cigarettes.
    Nevertheless, it’s much much cheaper. I gave it to my father on his birthday and since then he saves around a hundred Dollars each month. He tells me its great that he can decide on his own how much nicotine he inhales (the cartridges come in 0-16 mg nic.).
    My mum also loves it, because the “smoke” is mainly composed of water-vapor, so now she doesent need to send my dad outside each time he wants to smoke, haha. You can check them out on , this link contains a 10% discount.
    There is an upfront cost for the starters kit, but the cartridges are more than 50% cheaper than cigarettes, so in the end you’ll only save money. Try it, I cant see how you’ll be disappointed. Furthermore, they offer every customer a 30 day money back guarantee, meaning if you dont like it you can return it without having to pay any cost.

  10. “Chris Reed of the San Diego Union-Tribune wonders whether Reiner should be facing criminal charges over those old high jinx.”

    But..but..but the law is for the Little People! Reiner is Hollywood royalty!

  11. Either Gaga is a genius or someone behind her is a genius.

    Whoever’s behind her can’t hear her sing and can look at her ass. That’s smart.

    1. you’re just jealous of her obvious talent. your snark is going limp.

      1. Prediction: in 5 years, she’ll be as influential as Scary Spice and anyone who admits liking her music will be roundly mocked.

        There are a lot of better singers and piano players out there. LGG’s popularity isn’t based on that.

        1. I’ll take that bet.

          1. I’ll take it too.

            Gaga realized what Madonna had proven before her, as well as Liza Minelli and Judy Garland:

            If you capture the gay community, you live forever.

            Gaga conquered the gay community, which then allowed her to annex the dance music community without a struggle, and as soon as they saw that Top 40 capitulated and through open its gates.

            Gaga now, Gaga tomorrow, Gaga forever.

        2. LGG’s not going anywhere. The Illuminati aren’t half done with her yet.

  12. Reiner is Hollywood royalty? I guess it isn’t just English royalty breeding idiots these days.

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