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View Diary: Can Democrats Really Afford To Forfeit The Votes of 46 Million Smokers? (226 comments)

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  •  I've Been on Daily Kos Since 2005..... (5+ / 0-)

    ....and have spoken on this issue for years before reaching my boiling point with Obama's latest proposed tax increase.  I will hold up my progressive credentials against anyone, and that's why I'm compelled to push back against Democrats advancing a monstrously anti-progressive agenda of hyperinflating regressive taxes that will ruin low-income families much more than smoking ever will.

    •  Chill out and light one up. It's a disincentive. (7+ / 0-)

      If they don't want to pay the tax, they should quit smoking.

      "Nothing in all the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity." --M. L. King "You can't fix stupid" --Ron White -6.00, -5.18

      by zenbassoon on Sun May 12, 2013 at 10:58:04 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  First Of All, It's An Addiction..... (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        kyril, Eyesbright

        ......and you clearly don't understand those implications.  Addicts on everything other than tobacco are viewed as victims of a disease, which I have mixed feelings about, but is it ethical to tax those with diseases?

        And secondly, if people quit smoking, the nation's finances screech to a halt now that government has mortgaged so much of its budget on expectations of robust cigarette tax revenues for the rest of eternity.

        There is no subject where the left's cognitive thinking skills vanish like, well like smoke rings in the dark, than the issue of sin taxes and tobacco specifically.

        •  I do understand. Very well. My last cigarette (9+ / 0-)

          was in 2009.  Before that I had quit for a previous 4 years in the midst of a pack and a half a day habit for a previous twenty.

          Plus I am on a weight loss program, which is also an addiction.

          "Nothing in all the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity." --M. L. King "You can't fix stupid" --Ron White -6.00, -5.18

          by zenbassoon on Sun May 12, 2013 at 11:09:05 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  A darn sight better than chucking them (11+ / 0-)

          in jail, I would say. If the ACA includes free medical assistance to those seeking to break the addiction, then the circle is's been known for years that most smokers want to quit, so viewing them as an "interest group" makes no sense.

          Incidentally, if they were an interest group, which they're not, they'd be a shrinking one. But the main point is, being smokers is not in their interest, and any way to overcome the addiction, or even get them to smoke less, is beneficial. (and by the way, I know a young man who smokes who has been forced by high prices to smoke less, so the high taxes actually benefit smokers).

          "All governments lie, but disaster lies in wait for countries whose officials smoke the same hashish they give out." --I.F. Stone

          by Alice in Florida on Sun May 12, 2013 at 11:46:41 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  i would be happy to tax legalized addictive drugs (7+ / 0-)

          as we do with alcohol and cigarettes as well, as a saner way to disincentivise them while still enabling their regulation for purity and safety, and not blowing massive amounts of money needlessly on police persecution.

          •  I Think You Better Be Careful What You Wish For (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Eyesbright, viral

            Marijuana legalization done right would be a tremendous public policy victory, but as your comment implies, the primary motivation by government to legalize it would be for a massive new revenue stream that they will raise with unbridled, insatiable abandon, ultimately to the detriment of any benefits of legalization.  If the tax-inflated price for legalized marijuana exceeds what the black market is able to deliver it to customers for, legalization will have been for nothing.  Seeing how these lawmakers have treated tobacco as a cash pinata, I'm convinced they'll screw up marijuana legalization by following the same gluttonous template.

        •  Ex-smoker straight talk (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          Boy do I know it's an addiction.  

          The only real revenge on the tobacco industry and the tax collector is to quit smoking.  You know you need to.  I knew it for years even in full denial. You can do it. It will suck.

          But on the other side is freedom. And health. And hundreds of dollars in your pocket.  

          It's not a right except in the sense of a right to kill yourself.

        •  hmmm (0+ / 0-)
          Addicts on everything other than tobacco are viewed as victims of a disease
          what fantasyland do you live in?

          because it's obviously not the united states, where addiction is viewed as hardened criminal behavior, not as a disease.

          Deficits don't matter, jobs do.

          by aguadito on Sun May 12, 2013 at 07:07:36 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  Which is what I did, I quit! (10+ / 0-)

        When Guv Rick Perry raised the tax on cigs to $1.00 per pk I said enough.  I was up to 2 1/2 pks a day (cough, cough). I put the cigs down and have never been sorry.  That's the only thing Rick Perry has done in his long Texas career that's actually benefited me.

        Don’t argue with idiots because they will drag you down to their level and then beat you with experience.—Greg King

        by Pinto Pony on Sun May 12, 2013 at 11:56:19 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  I say the same about taxes on soda and junk food. (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Dallasdoc, ER Doc

        Nothing wrong on taxes on unhealthy stuff.

    •  If low income familes can't afford to buy tobacco (9+ / 0-)

      they won't be 'ruined' by spending ever more money on it.

      So one could posit that the solution to 'the monstrously anti-progressive nature' of tobacco taxes is to raise them high enough that no one but the stupid wealthy are spending money on tobacco in the first place.

      Tobacco isn't even like marijuana - it has no real medical use, and creates serious medical problems.

      I'd far rather see cheap marijuana and expensive tobacco out there, and I say that as a user of neither.

      •  You're Effectively Calling For Prohibition..... (6+ / 0-)

        .....which would be as big of a failure for tobacco as it is for marijuana.  And just like with currently illegal drugs, a black market will form (it's already here, but will expand) if lawmakers keep raising cigarette taxes.

        The endgame of what you're advocating is the construction of hundreds more prisons to lock up people engaged in the black market proliferation of.....cigarettes.  For the left to think this is acceptable public policy really shows how unhinged they've become.

        •  I'm generally not against locking up those who (5+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          wu ming, allergywoman, ER Doc, skohayes, viral

          engage in the distribution (for profit) of dangerous illegal substances.

          I don't believe in locking up users, though.  The largest problem with out current 'drug war' is that we overpenalize users.  We lock up people who have drugs for personal use, and set limits on 'personal use' so low that people who aren't sellers are treated as if they were.

          So lets have far fewer prisons, and spend more on treating addicts, rather than paying private prisons to house them.

          •  I'm Pretty Sure You Don't Get To Have..... (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            .....prohibitions without tough enforcement mechanisms.  That's ultimately why all prohibitions fail, because the profit motive of delivering the supply of a given prohibited product to people who demand it is too compelling.  And the only way for government to control the situation at all is to stiffen penalties for those engaged in black market commerce.  That is why we're where we are now with illegal drug policy and the millions of Americans locked up in prisons because of it....and why we'll be in the same place with tobacco if we try to criminalize the usage and distribution of that.

            The prospect of successfully waging a prohibition with "fewer prisons and more spending on treating addicts" is tactically impossible.

        •  Cigarette smuggling: A $multi-billion industry (4+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Mark27, i love san fran, kyril, Eyesbright

          Largely ignored in this conversation is the issue of cigarette smuggling, which is a rapidly growing business fueling organized crime, corruption etc. It is a serious problem!

          Smuggling one truckload of cigarettes from Virginia to New York can mean a profit of nearly $2million. In some areas it has become more profitable to smuggle cigarettes than to smuggle pot. It has even been linked to support of terrorism.

          I don't believe all the figures showing the number of smokers is declining, because they don't take into account those who buy on the blackmarket.

          Prohibition doesn't work, and high taxes on tobacco products is a form of prohibition to the poor and lower middle class smokers who are addicted.

          Where do you think this will lead? Do you really think all smokers will quit because of those taxes? Or will they just find a cheaper way to support their habit? A cheaper way that involves violent crime?

          This isn't just a moral problem.

          Do you think I exaggerate? Here's the leading source on the subject, with three links:

          Mackinac Center for Public Policy, 2008 study:

          2010 update:

          A 2013 updated commentary

          Google or Bing "cigarette smuggling" to get a ton of information about it. I repeat: This is a serious issue.

          This is certainly not going to stop me from voting Democratic, but IMO those high taxes are creating more problems than they're solving...

          “Somewhere, something incredible is waiting to be known.” ― Carl Sagan

          by tigerdog on Sun May 12, 2013 at 12:08:13 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  I Left This Issue Out of the Diary......... (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            kyril, tigerdog, Eyesbright

            .....because it didn't fit well with the rest of my argument, but clearly this is the largest public policy consequence to artificially high cigarette taxes.  Unfortunately, a lazy mainstream media has largely ignored the issue, giving cover to craven and predatory politicians to keep raising "sin taxes" without a desperately needed public hearing.

            •  Unintended consequences... (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Mark27, Eyesbright

              A quote from Mackinac...

              Higher cigarette taxes do, however, come with other unintended consequences: wholesale and retail thefts, truck hijackings, violence against people and even corruption of government officials.

              Last summer a Prince George’s County Maryland police officer was sentenced for his part in a smuggling operation that included use of his patrol car, gun and uniform. Prison guards have been caught trying to smuggle cigarettes into prison.

              Higher taxes to curb cigarette smoking are probably not as influential as some believe and they often come with every manner of unintended consequence. When considering this excise tax hike proposal it would be wise for state lawmakers to consider all of the costs associated with the purported benefits.

              Also, "...a report from the Public Health and Policy Research Program at RTI International, a private consultancy that found New York State’s low-income smokers spend 25 percent of their incomes on cigarettes."

              Consider the many implications...

              “Somewhere, something incredible is waiting to be known.” ― Carl Sagan

              by tigerdog on Sun May 12, 2013 at 12:49:46 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  Do you really want to quote The Mackinac Center? (5+ / 0-)

                Calling other DKos members "weenies" is a personal insult and therefore against site rules.

                by Bob Johnson on Sun May 12, 2013 at 12:57:30 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  Even A Broken Clock Is Right Twice A Day..... (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:

                  .....and I'm extremely grateful for Mackinac's advocacy on this issue in lieu of a mainstream media too lazy and too beholden to antismoking interests to cover what is a major political issue.

                •  I'm aware of their creds (or lack thereof) (2+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  Mark27, Eyesbright

                  but used them as the most convenient source. The data is out there from independent sources if you want to dig for it.

                  I first became aware of the issue before Obama was first elected, not from Mackinac but from an article in a Texas newspaper. I think it was a Dallas newspaper, but have not been able to track it down again. Anyway, a reporter did an article about cigarette smuggling from Mexico, what big business it was becoming and how some former drug smugglers had switched to cigarettes for reasons of profit. It was well researched and led me to look more deeply into the issue.

                  Then I have personal, anecdotal evidence on some fronts. The HUGE increase in the number of ordinary not-homeless people hitting me up for a cigarette; the number of "entrepreneurs" selling loose cigarettes in strip mall parking lots (often in front of tobacco stores); and an enterprising homeless man who collects cigarette butts, removes the tobacco and mixes it all together then rolls "new" cigarettes and sells them for $.25 each. I have also personally come across black market sellers on many occasions. Etc. and so forth, also, too.

                  The smuggling issue is for real, even though in this case it is Mackinac "reporting" on it.

                  “Somewhere, something incredible is waiting to be known.” ― Carl Sagan

                  by tigerdog on Sun May 12, 2013 at 01:14:49 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

    •  Sorry, but if you're threatening to not vote (7+ / 0-)

      for Democrats over this relatively unimportant single issue, your progressive credentials need some polishing, big time.

      "If you trust you are not critical; if you are critical you do not trust" by our own Dauphin

      by gustynpip on Sun May 12, 2013 at 12:06:57 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Marks' point is that were over-regulating (4+ / 0-)

        people's life styles. In NYC you can no longer smoke at the beach or in a public park--where there is no second hand smoke issue.  It's enough.

        •  Who says (0+ / 0-)

          there's no second hand smoke issue in parks and beaches? Of course there is.

          We decided to move the center farther to the right by starting the whole debate from a far-right position to begin with. - Former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay

          by denise b on Sun May 12, 2013 at 05:49:27 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  To The Same Extent There Are Carcinogen Issues.... (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            .....related to the boats and jet-skis on beaches, yes, there are "secondhand smoke issues" there as well.  But only the most craven busybodies would argue that secondhand smoke exposure on beaches or parks is a public health hazard to anyone.  If you don't like it, guess can take three steps away from it and you don't notice it anymore.

      •  It's Only "Relatively Unimportant"...... (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        kyril, Eyesbright

        .....if you can tolerate the extraction of thousands of dollars per year from some of our most vulnerable citizens....and the children of some of our most vulnerable citizens.  I held my nose and tolerated it for years now, but I can tolerate it no longer.

        •  children being around cigarette smoke (4+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          allergywoman, FG, terrybuck, ER Doc

          is far worse for them than their parents paying a higher price for fucking cigarettes. and if higher price per pack induces their parents to quit, then so much the better, for their family budgets and their health.

          this is incredibly cynical, to be crying crocodile tears for the children.

          •  You're Assuming A Lot..... (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            .....including that the parents are smoking in the presence of their children, which at this point I suspect the overwhelming majority do not.  But even if you're right, it's a pretty sad testimonial that you believe children living in poverty are better off than children exposed to cigarette smoke.  Are you kidding me?  For most of the last century, entire generations of children grew up in the presence of secondhand smoke and the species managed to not only survive, but grow its life expectancy at historic rates.

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