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Is this the beginning of corporate sponsorship of our government?

The Associated Press reports that the owner of Philip Morris, America's largest tobacco company, is sponsoring a rally in opposition to raising cigarette taxes by $1-per-pack here in Georgia [Associated Press (2010-3-9). Anti-Tax group to rally. Athens Banner Herald. Retrieved on 2010-3-9.].  

Like many other states, Georgia is facing a significant drop in tax revenue due to the struggling economy. Georgia's state budget is projected to be close to $2 billion in the red [Shearer, Lee (2010-3-9). State deficit likely closer to $2B. Athens Banner Herald. Retrieved on 2010-3-9.]. State legislators are seeking ways to balance the budget through cuts and even tax increases.

Whether you support raising the cigarette tax or not, you must agree that there is something inherently wrong with a big tobacco company sponsoring a rally in opposition to a tax that could conceivably affect their bottom line.

I mean this rally isn't organized by a group of citizens petitioning their government for a redress of grievances.  This is a corporation trying to maximize its profits under the guise of demonstrating popular support against raising the tobacco tax.

Popular sentiment in Georgia firmly favors increasing the cigarette tax.  A poll says that 75% of Georgians would support a $1 raise in the cigarette tax [Capelouto, Susanna (2010-3-8).  Cigarette Tax Gets Push At Capitol.  Georgia Public Broadcasting.  Retrieved on 2010-3-9.].  Yet, Georgia has legislators such as House Speaker David Ralston and Senate Republican Leader Chip Rogers who continue to slam the door shut on a cigarette tax increase.

Georgia Public Broadcasting says that Ralston and Rogers both plan on attending the Philip Morris-sponsored anti-tax rally.  I guess that means the Republican leaders of Georgia's General Assembly are corporate tools.

If that is the case, then how long before Georgians see a Philip Morris decal in the halls of state government.

Originally posted to Andre in Atlanta on Tue Mar 09, 2010 at 02:33 AM PST.

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Comment Preferences

    •  There is Something Inherently Wrong with..... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      ....a government finding that a certain product is lethal, but allowing it to be sold.

      I say, either ban it, or allow it to be sold without increasing the excise taxes.

      Why so many Dems support these regressive taxes is beyond me.

      And I'm a non-smoker.

      Learn about Centrist Economics, learn about Robert Rubin's Hamilton Project.

      by PatriciaVa on Tue Mar 09, 2010 at 06:22:07 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Exactly, and consistency also requires.... (0+ / 0-)

        banning alcohol which is implicated in half of all murders, suicides, and automobile fatalities.  

        Unlike second-hand smoke, second-hand drink is immediately fatal.  

        So therefore let's just bring back prohibition and extend it all the way across the board.  

        Think of the jobs it will create!  Think of the middle-class wage you can earn as a prison guard, or building new prisons, or providing supplies to new prisons, or working in one of the associated industries such as industrial furniture or surveillance equipment!  

        If we can incarcerate about 15% of our society, we'll have full employment!   Wow!  

      •  I agree... (0+ / 0-)

        I don't think banning it altogether is doable or practical, however, as has been shown by the "war on drugs".  Having a very large pre-existing base of people addicted to tobacco would make such a ban even more difficult to successfully enforce.

        The real problem I have with sin taxes like this is that they are highly regressive in nature.

  •  Tea Party showed them how it's done. (0+ / 0-)

    Yes.  The Tea Party was not "By the People" It was set up and funded by the health care industry, and it's goal was to protect the health care industry from being forced to change. Stupid people joined in.  What this really did was showed the way for any industry to "Take it to the streets" What needs to be looked at is how dumb most people are to not understand that they are being played.  The same people going out to protest health care reform, are going to either themselves or a family member will need health care only to find out they have a pre existing condition that allows the health care insurer to drop them. These are the same people that when they land in the hospital will spend months trying to re submit bills to their insurance company, or go down in flames financially.  These are really, really stupid people.   I wonder if cigarette smokers would rally to support lower heroin costs if heroin users were to rally?    I see them as equals here.
    Both are killing themselves, and someone is making a killing off of them.  So dumb.

    "Hey, with religion you can't get just a little pregnant"

    by EarTo44 on Tue Mar 09, 2010 at 03:09:20 AM PST

    •  EarTo44 (0+ / 0-)

      Not dumb, addicted as far as the smoker and heroin users are concerned. Some very intelligent smokers still smoke.

      As long as this country makes it legal to smoke, then they should foot the health bills.  The availability of cigarettes makes it ten times harder to quit.

      Give us Health Care not Wealth Care!

      by relentless on Tue Mar 09, 2010 at 06:11:20 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Pricing cigarettes (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    I quit smoking cigarettes in 1982. I quit smoking dope a couple of years later in 1986. Only two or three of my friends smoke anything any more.

    The homeless people who have not yet acquired the skill to roll their own seem to be smoking imported mystery brand cigarettes. Cigarettes which are familiar brands now cost over seven dollars per pack, and the junk cigarettes cost over five dollars per pack. As fewer people can afford to smoke tobacco, how high can the taxes go before no one buys the product any more? How do states replace the declining revenue from tobacco taxes?

    I am curious about how many tobacco products are stolen to support habits? With cigarettes for sale by the pack stored up on shelves behind the counter in convenience stores, I am thinking simple shoplifting won't work. Robbing stores where tobacco is sold nets less and less cash in this odd economy, but the thousands of dollars worth of cigarettes must be an increasingly tempting target for criminals. If bandits will kill a clerk over a few hundred dollars in the cash register, who is delusional enough to believe two or three thousand dollars worth of cigarettes would not be targeted?

    Et des boyaux du dernier prêtre Serrons le cou du dernier roi.

    by johnrhoffman on Tue Mar 09, 2010 at 04:12:41 AM PST

  •  Anti cig tax promoted by cig companies? (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    I think even the dumbest among us will realize that they have a vested interest in not raising taxes.  

    This is your world These are your people You can live for yourself today Or help build tomorrow for everyone -8.75, -8.00

    by DisNoir36 on Tue Mar 09, 2010 at 05:00:38 AM PST

    •  Higher cig taxes serve the tobacco company's (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      CEOs and owners right.  They are also the ones who don't want to pay Federal or State taxes, so the corporate government finds other ways to reach into the pockets of the rest of us.  If it hurts the tobacco bottom line...good.

      I quit smoking, but I feel for those who haven't been able to quit.

      Give us Health Care not Wealth Care!

      by relentless on Tue Mar 09, 2010 at 06:18:58 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  This is the problem for corporations in politics (0+ / 0-)

    A number of companies will discover blowback after ham-handed efforts to game the political process.  Who the hell is dumb enough to put them selves on the tobacco companies?  Guess anti-tax fundamentalists in the Republican party turns out to be the answer.

    Most Georgians probably won't see this a tax increase them on them, and I find wide support among people I talk to for increasing cigarette taxes to minimize smoking rates.  Many states, such as MA where I used to live, have found significant drops in the numbers of smokers with steep cigarette tax increases, which is the most valuable effect of the move.  

    Politicians are free to advocate people continuing smoking and maintaining the profits of tobacco companies.  Let's hope they pay the price such cynical prostitution of their offices.

  •  About half the cost of a pack (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    of cigarettes are taxes, depending on the state tax.  Each state is different.

    The last I heard they went up 2000% on taxes on 'roll your own' cigarettes.

    Give us Health Care not Wealth Care!

    by relentless on Tue Mar 09, 2010 at 06:15:04 AM PST

  •  The corporate elite have us so well-trained.... (0+ / 0-)

    ...that we don't even bother to ask What percentage would favor a progressive income tax?

    And the Moral Majority types have us so well-trained that the first thing we think of for raising revenues is to punish SIN.

    Yes, and along the way, we piss off a chunk of the working class vote at every turn.  A buck a pack on smokes, 20% on soda and pizza, raise the tax on beer but exempt "fine" wine, all in the name of fighting the Sin du Jour.  Deep down inside, we* think of ourselves as superior because our lifestyles are better than theirs.  

    And then we wonder what happened every time we lose an election or can't get nominal Democrats to use their majority in Congress.  


    *I use the first person plural to make the point, but I detest moral majoritarianism in all of its forms.  The people who embrace it for whatever rationalization they can cook up, are so full of shit that if they ever took a laxative, their house would become a Superfund site in five minutes.  

  •  If Georgia has a budget shortfall (0+ / 0-)

    They should tax EVERYBODY. The whole point of targeting smokers is that they only make up about 25 percent of the population so the consequences of losing their vote doesn't matter.

    Here in Cuyahoga county Ohio when they needed $30 million to fund the arts do you think they taxed everyone? No, they put a referendum on the ballot to tax smokers 30 cents a pack. $300 million for a football stadium - tax the smokers. $200 million for a baseball stadium - tax the smokers. How about for the basketball/hockey arena - tax the smokers. Want a professional soccer team? Perhaps, but in this economy how does one pay for it? I know - tax the smokers.

    Why is it that only one class of citizens gets to pay for the general budget shortfalls that are applicable for every citizen? For public works projects that are meant for the use of all citizens? But that is how it works in America.

  •  Don't buy that the higher taxes are to (0+ / 0-)

    help smokers quit smoking.

    If they really want to help smokers quit smoking they should lower the cost of nicotine patches or subsidize them.  The same with the prescriptions that help people quit smoking.

    We didn't say Wealth Care, we said Health Care.

    by relentless on Thu Mar 11, 2010 at 02:23:14 PM PST

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