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If President Obama had had the decency to tell American smokers that he planned to single them out for ANOTHER $1,000+ per year tax increase at the beginning of his second term, would he have been re-elected?  It's impossible to know for sure, but my suspicion is it would have been at best a nailbiter rather than a decisive victory.  No matter how much one may agree with Obama and the Democrats on the issues, and how much they may have feared Romney and the Republicans, it's getting to the point of being financially impossible for voters who smoke to cast a ballot for the party.  Worse yet, it's increasingly clear at this point that the Democratic Party is gonna perceive every election victory as a mandate to further weaponize the tax code against smokers at all levels of government, and it's to the point now of imposing tangible financial harm on both smokers and everybody else in their households....and it's hard to imagine that they're gonna keep going back to the open arms of their abusers when in the voting booth.

This issue has been a hobby horse of mine for a long time even though I'm a lifelong nonsmoker.  The very premise of a "sin tax" is ethically monstrous and antithetical to the core of both secular and progressive public policy.  And specifically as it applies to smoking, the Democrats are undermining their brand by being agents of intolerance towards this one cherry-picked demographic of villains whom they've decreed to be their moral inferiors.  For a decade now, I've contained my fury over the Democratic Party's increasingly shrill position on this issue because I've calculated that, on balance, the opposition is still much worse and the Democrats are still the party better positioned to improve the lives of average Americans, which is the primary reason I'm aligned with progressive politics.  But I may have reached a tipping point, and if I have, imagine how those who are actually on the receiving end of this mugging must feel.

When I speak of a "tipping point", I'm referencing the moment where the average voter's perceived upside effect of voting Democratic is reversed.  There's plenty of evidence that waves of conservative Yellow Dog Democrats tossed in their Democratic Party affiliation when Clinton signed NAFTA, assessing that their alignment with the party based on economic interests no longer applied, and that the other side at least shared their values on issues such as, for instance, abortion and guns.  What I am suggesting is that unlike these conservative Democrats of a generation ago, millions of American smokers will continue to share the values embraced by today's Democratic Party, but will be forced to cut ties with the party based on financial self-preservation.  Simply put, the cost of voting Democratic and paying the sin taxes they keep raising will outweigh any financial upside they would traditionally associate with Democratic economic policies.

There will be plenty who read my thesis and be aghast at the prospect of people changing the way they vote based on the cost of cigarettes, but we're talking about thousands and thousands of dollars here for a disproportionately working-class demographic at a time when wages are at an all-time low as a percentage of GDP.  And clearly given the size of this community's quit-smoking support group, the habit is highly addictive so quitting is not a realistic option for many of these people, and if they did quit the nation's finances would collapse given how dependent we have allowed ourselves to become on cigarette tax revenue.  So Obama and other mostly Democratic cigarette tax increasers are really putting smokers and their families in a desperate situation here.

Pouring salt in the wound is the complete lack of respect.  There was no public hearing on the merits of $10-a-pack cigarettes during the campaign just as there wasn't in 2008, and it's despicable that Obama didn't believe smokers deserved the dignity of being informed of his intentions of imposing considerable financial harm upon their families before he sought to enact it into policy.  Such is the case throughout the country, including in my home state of Minnesota where Governor Mark Dayton specifically campaigned AGAINST raising the cigarette tax when he ran in 2010, but instead is now on the cusp of imposing the largest single-year increase of cigarette taxes in American history in Minnesota.  Furthermore, cynical politicians looking to exploit this path-of-least-resistance revenue pinata used to hide behind the bogus talking point that cigarette taxes are merely a user fee to recoup costs to society imposed by smoking, never mind the fact that smokers are far and away the cheapest demographic for government given their lower life expectancies and reduced consumption of old age public services.  But Obama is setting a new precedent here in bypassing the usual talking points of raising cigarette taxes to offset health care costs and is instead proposing raising cigarette taxes for universal preschool.  It's just disrespect.....bordering on abuse.

And while I'm focusing this diary primarily on smoking because politicians are the most craven and cynical in exploiting that, there's a larger movement here that threatens the Democratic coalition beyond just those who smoke.  The most troubling development in the Democratic Party in recent years is its transformation in the "Mike Bloomberg Party", shifting its focus from improving people's lives to micromanaging them.  And it seems nearly every left-leaning journalist and MSNBC correspondent is fully onboard every effort to either limit people's freedom to put what they want into their body or to impose financial hardship on them if they do.  This demanded forfeiture of personal autonomy is usually defended under the pretense of "public health", and almost always including the fraudulent premise that these choices are breaking public budgets.  And the movement is being conducted in bad faith, with the goalposts endlessly moving from one target to the next after every "victory" for loss of personal freedoms.  Yesterday's war on smoking--->today's war on sugar-->tomorrow's war on salt, etc.  And it's perfectly clear that the movement to control the public's personal choices is only just beginning.

As the global economic landscape has changed, the Democratic Party's ability to shift public policy in a direction that improves the lives of the working-class and middle-class has diminished.  Their intentions may mostly be sincere, but if we're being honest with ourselves there is little chance of today's factory worker even matching the standard of living of his father let alone improving upon it.  And while they can lay claim to not causing as much harm with their preferred public policy than would Republicans, that defensive message is not a winning one.  With that in mind, Democrats run the risk of being defined as the party of the lifestyle scolds, following Mike Bloomberg off a climb and creating a huge opening for Republicans to seize a libertarian-minded younger generation disappointed with the Democrats' performance on economics.

It seems likely that the Republican Party will move in a more libertarian direction in the years ahead, with the social conservatives losing sway.  Their economic message will be no less toxic and may in fact become even more so, but opposition to gay marriage and forcing doctors to keep Terri Schiavo alive will be less likely to define the party.  If and when that happens, where does the "Kelly Clarkson voter" go, the millennial who first supported Ron Paul and then switched to Obama?  One may assume that these may be low-information voters attracted superficially to the caricature of libertarianism without fully understanding its impact on their lives, but if they are low-information voters it actually increases the odds of their being ripe for the picking if Democrats continue their march with Mike Bloomberg, effectively trading places with the Republicans as the party prioritizing paternalism over improving people's lives.  

It's obvious at this point that the left needs to learn this lesson the hard way, and as far as I'm concerned we're better if this happens sooner rather than later.  There is nothing about the Republican Party that I can get behind so voting for them is not an option, but sitting out the next election and encouraging others who agree with me is an option, preferably in an organized fashion.  I referenced Minnesota earlier in the diary and see that as a great place to start.  I'm not a smoker and I no longer live in Minnesota so I would be a poor spokesman for the cause, but I really hope to rally an organized effort of "Democratic smokers sitting out the next election" in the state.  Such a movement would provide a tangible scare tactic against Democrats in the state legislature who are on the cusp of taking advantage of them, letting them know that their financial assault on smokers can and will be met with an equally fierce response against the future of their political careers.  If even a quarter of Democratic voters who smoke played along and sat out the election, the ensuing electoral wipeout will send the message loud and clear that the days of Democrats using the tax code as a moral judgment sledgehammer to kneecap its own people--in this case, some of the most vulnerable--are over.  Given my loathing for just about everything the Republicans stand point, I don't make this suggestion lightly, but the trendline of predatory paternalism in the Democrats can't be ignored based on their 2013 policy proposals....and those who value the freedom to do what they choose with their own bodies without Big Brother destroying your life need to kill this beast immediately.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Good for him. (20+ / 0-)

    And if there are still any subsidies out there for growing tobacco, they should be abolished.

    •  If It Was Really A Public Health Issue...... (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      kyril, Eyesbright, Neuroptimalian

      .....the government wouldn't be basing an ever-rising share of its budget on many years worth of cigarette tax revenue expectations.  This is not a public health issue, it's a path-of-least-resistance revenue collection issue.

      •  Not really. It's been pointed out by pundits (14+ / 0-)

        that it can't be that, because the higher you raise the taxes on cigarettes at this point, the fewer taxes you actually collect.  You're already past the 'sweet spot' in re taxation for taxation's sake.  

        •  Well If That's The Case, And It Well May Be..... (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          ....isn't it budgetary malpractice of the highest order for Obama to pretend he can bankroll universal pre-K on $11 a pack cigarettes? You can't have it both ways.

          •  Yes, it is. Obama's pretense on funding universal (6+ / 0-)

            pre-k that way is at best a way to get it started, and then he'll need to depend upon the outrage of parents if it's threatened with it being taken away to find alternative funding.

            The Republicans are right in smelling a rat on this one, it's a blatant political ploy.

            •  If Obama Doesn't Have The Courage..... (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:

     finance this program credibly today, or doesn't believe others will have the courage to do so, why should we believe they will find that courage at some future date?

              •  This is a completely different argument than that (5+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                gustynpip, wu ming, tardis10, terrybuck, ER Doc

                of the diary, but...

                First, he's only going to be in office for 3 more years, so at that point it becomes 'SEP' (Somebody Else's Problem)

                Second, the point I was trying to get across was not a matter of 'courage' (which in itself, when applied to the president, is usually considered a 'trollish' concept on site), but political connivance.  'Courage' doesn't play into the equation at all.  The President wants a useful benefit to the country - Universal pre-K, and knows he can't get it started with the current obstructive Congress unless he can at least pretend to fund it.  So he chooses something he knows won't work long-term, knowing that once it's in place, parents will scream bloody hell at Republicans who try to take it away.  This forces Republicans to fume and accept that it will end up being funded in other ways, which amounts to income taxes.

                •  I Got Your Point...... (2+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  kyril, Eyesbright

                  ......but consider it budgetary malpractice, ultimately no different than proposing a major expansion of government without planning to pay for it at all.  I'm sure George W. Bush had the same idea in mind with both wars and Medicare Part D, but it's a ruinous way to govern.

                  And yes, this is a different argument than what I was saying in the diary, but not mutually exclusive.  There are literally dozens of different angles one can take when debating why a never-ending rising tide of sin taxes is horrific politics and horrific public policy.

                  •  It's been proven that higher taxes (1+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    ER Doc

                    make more people quit and less teenagers start. It's the reason I'm quitting, cigarettes are just too damn expensive.
                    Ultimately, that's a good thing.

                    “We are not a nation that says ‘don’t ask, don’t tell.’ We are a nation that says ‘out of many, we are one.’” -Barack Obama

                    by skohayes on Sun May 12, 2013 at 04:05:38 PM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  That Is Wrongheaded Public Policy..... (0+ / 0-)

                      .....both in the degree of its footprint on the personal autonomy of a supposedly free people....and in financing a government that needs real-world revenue to effectively function, not fantasy-world revenue that politicians say they're hoping never shows up in the first place.

                      •  you should be thanking... (0+ / 0-)

                        ...your lucky stars that you don't get harassed and victimized by the police-state like marijuana users do.

                        consider yourself blessed for being addicted to the substance that is more deadly and doesn't get you thrown in jail.

                        Deficits don't matter, jobs do.

                        by aguadito on Sun May 12, 2013 at 07:06:20 PM PDT

                        [ Parent ]

                        •  Yeah I Don't Use Either Tobacco Or Marijuana..... (0+ / 0-)

                          Now that we have the alleged personal interest inference out of the way, I can address your point and give you encouragement for the trendline on marijuana usage, which is clearly trending towards legalization.  Personally, I think the preferred outcome is decriminalization because legalization will be a major disappointment, a means for the tobacco companies to take over production and distribution of all tax-stamped legal pot ("Marlboro Greens") and for government to impose the same steep and predatory taxes on it that it will render all the benefits of legalization null and void, most likely INCREASING the number of people in jail for marijuana-related "crimes".  Settle for decriminalization, however, and the future is bright for marijuana users.

                          •  no thanks, legalization is proper (0+ / 0-)

                            just like there are home-brew beers, we can have mom-and-pop grow operations for marijuana if it's legal.

                            decriminalization is stupid and makes no sense, i don't care about Marlboro Greens coming out, they can be the cheap, lame weak joints and you can support local businesses and stuff too.

                            that's actually one of the most absurd arguments i've ever heard against legalization -- the concern for corporatization?!?! lol

                            Deficits don't matter, jobs do.

                            by aguadito on Sun May 12, 2013 at 08:12:50 PM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  Good Luck With That..... (0+ / 0-)

                            The government's only interest in legalizing marijuana is to get their grubby paws on tens of billions of dollars per year in revenue.  This scenario does not include legalization of pot grown in Willie Nelson's basement and sold at farmers' markets because the tax collection will be too difficult to control.  The tax stamp authority will be given exclusively to two corporations--Philip Morris and RJ Reynolds--who will mass-produce marijuana cigarettes filled with the same deadly carcinogens that tobacco cigarettes are.  Doing so will create a pretext for grandstanding politicians--the same ones calling for marijuana legalization today--to do a complete 180 and decree that "marijuana KILLS"....and thus call for an endless rising tide of new marijuana "sin taxes" to protect the children.  Sound like a familiar story?

                            As for those who dare to defy Uncle Sam and the sin tax empire he believes he's entitled to by selling homegrown marijuana despite being denied tax stamp authority to do so, the swift fist of DEA justice will hit him in the crotch even more fiercely than it does today......because at least today he's not standing in the way of fists full of Uncle Sam's cash.  Bottom line:  marijuana legalization undertaken by the government will result in more people in jail for marijuana-related crimes than today.....and your joints will taste like Camels....because for all intents and purposes that's what they'll be.  All of this could be avoided if you settle for decriminalization.  But if you insist on legalization, don't say I didn't warn you.

                          •  conspiracy theories based on nothing (0+ / 0-)

                            Tobacco can't be easily grown inside the home, so it's not a proper analogy.

                            Beer can be easily produced at home, and it's fully legal, easy to get homebrew licenses and do hobby-brewing.

                            "Bottom line:  marijuana legalization undertaken by the government will result in more people in jail for marijuana-related crimes than today"

                            This is fucking stupid and you're not basing this crack-fueled conspiracy theory on any facts or sensible analysis of the situation.  Just because I can easily brew beer or make wine in my home, doesn't mean I do it! It's a hell of a lot more convenient to not stink up my house with plants and just buy from an expert grower -- and I can support my local botanist rather than a corporate overlord.

                            Legalization would entail removing the federal tax stamp act, and there's absolutely no reason to think they would restrict issuance to big corporations.

                            Also taxes are good -- they're a backdoor to funding public institutions for people who hate income tax and have irrational hatred of the system (like yourself).

                            When I was a kid (i'm 26 now) I was a libertarian too. I was swept away by free-market idealogues like Milton Friedman and anti-government nutters like Ayn Rand and of course, the history of our nation which has a pretty consistent theme of anti-authority which i think is the reason why a lot of high school kids get influenced into being Libertarians.

                            But the fact is that not everything that is socially-beneficial is easily marketed and able to be profited on -- certain things in life should just not be left to markets to allocate resources of.

                            Markets should be the base of the vast majority of things -- but public institutions should be there to maintain unity and civility, as well as to prevent negative externalities that arise from market-driven activity (pollution, monopoly power, greed).

                            Also, the way our monetary system is designed is a legal ponzi scheme, as a result it would be immoral to refuse to allow people the decency of food, clothing, and shelter if they "lose the game" of capitalism. Even Milton Friedman supported negative income taxes and a guaranteed minimum income!

                            But certain "industries" -- like education, healthcare, basic housing -- should have a public presence in the market. So rather than an outright domination of, say, healthcare provision -- you can let there be Medicare for all so that no matter who you are you can choose to have a public plan rather than deal with big corporations trying to score a buck off you.

                            You can't have a society that runs purely off of profiting from one another -- it breeds distrust and screws up social cohesion.

                            Public institutions are really important, you don't want the private money interests to own all the land and assets in society because then you got nowhere to go unless you pay a fee! And no, charities DO NOT magically cover the shortfall when government does not step up to the plate to provide public goods. No matter what anecdotes you're fed about rich people giving money away to support the public good -- it's simply not sustainable if we don't have a democracy where we all agree that we need to have public institutions that serve as a backstop and help facilitate community.

                            You really need to travel outside the United States and read about 20th century history. When you let private money interests go wild, you can see what happens in parts of South America. You can also see in parts of Europe what happens when as a society you come together to form a social compact where the strong support the weak and where there are robust markets that are complemented by equally fortified safety nets that help provide opportunity to all.

                            I used to be like you, trust me. I hated seat belt laws, I hated taxes of all sorts -- and then I read a lot more books and history and I travelled and I realized there's a lot more to life than what a selected reading of US history. Societies aren't build, civilization is not build, by turning all incentives in life over to profit and private gain. Not everything that is good or beneficial in life is profitable! You'll grow out of it. Most of my friends who were like me in high school and college eventually snapped out of it. If you hit 30 and you still haven't, then I'd be worried.

                            Deficits don't matter, jobs do.

                            by aguadito on Sun May 12, 2013 at 08:44:32 PM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  Nope.....Conspiracy Theories Based on Precedent... (0+ / 0-)

                            ....precedent which is unfolding at this moment with tobacco.  If you think for one minute that government has any other interest in legalizing marijuana than to turn it into "the new tobacco" in every conceivable way, then I have a bridge to sell you.

                            As for your other comments, I'm not averse at all to taxes, but I prefer they be progressive whenever possible and broad-based whenever possible, so as not to single anybody out, specifically not those of limited means.  It's sad that I even have to explain to pseudo-progressives why a $1.95 federal tax combined with an average $2 state tax on every 60-cent pack of cigarettes is the worst kind of tax.  That's straight out of Progressive Policy 101....or at least it was until Mike Bloomberg decided the savages needed to be civilized and the left decided to decree him their David Koresh.

                            I'm not and never was a Randian or Milton Friedman follower, but aspects of libertarianism have some appeal.  But it isn't really libertarianism to be against yet again more cigarette's more basic human decency to not further afflict the already afflicted and their families with a massive financial censure against a legal activity in which the government earns scores of billions of dollars in straight profit from every year.  

                            You don't have to educate me on the limitations of libertarian ideology.  I'm more of an old school labor Democrat with a blue-collar background who embraces a quasi-libertarian view on sin taxes simply because I don't want to see my already devastated family and neighbors be further destroyed.

                          •  cig tax is definitely regressive. (0+ / 0-)

                            that i can't argue against.

                            and, well, tobacco does offer a relief to an already marginalized class of people trying to make the best of a shitty, unfair system and life.

                            so you have a good point there.

                            didn't mean to strawman you as a Libertarian, but based on  the comments thread you were coming off as more that than a labor dem.

                            but -- the analogy of tobacco still doesn't hold up because weed is easier to grow and because it's an industrial cash crop, much different from weed.

                            Cannabis actually has elements of both tobacco and alcohol -- but it's distinct. I wouldn't jump to the conclusions you have jumped to with what would happen with legalization. I think if you change the law you will change the cultural attitudes towards it.  The jobs and GDP boost we would get from legitimizing the whole trade is something we really need right now.

                            Deficits don't matter, jobs do.

                            by aguadito on Sun May 12, 2013 at 09:57:55 PM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  In Colorado, (0+ / 0-)

                            It's legal to grow up to 5 plants for personal use. Only 3 can be in bud, however (LOL).

                            “We are not a nation that says ‘don’t ask, don’t tell.’ We are a nation that says ‘out of many, we are one.’” -Barack Obama

                            by skohayes on Mon May 13, 2013 at 03:47:39 AM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

      •  No, it really is a public health issue (5+ / 0-)

        No "ifs" about it.

      •  So my sinus infection from 2nd hand smoke is (5+ / 0-)

        a moral illness?

        Because a trip to church (synog, mosque, temple or whatever) is WAY cheaper than the antibiotics. Especially since I don't have healthcare.

        I am much too liberal to be a Democrat.

        by WiseFerret on Sun May 12, 2013 at 01:14:46 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Question: Why would you, as a NON SMOKER (19+ / 0-)

    deliberately organize SMOKERS against Democrats?

    I smell troll.

    "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 10:48:27 AM PDT

    •  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.

  •  Oh my god (30+ / 0-)

    This is a joke, right?

    I'm a smoker, I don't give a fuck. I've always said stupidity should be taxed. Smoking is fucking stupid. Tax me for it.

    P.S. I am not a crackpot.

    by BoiseBlue on Sun May 12, 2013 at 10:48:34 AM PDT

  •  Is this satire? (11+ / 0-)

    If so, hilarious.

    If not, hmmmmm...

    I blog about my daughter with autism at her website

    by coquiero on Sun May 12, 2013 at 10:49:12 AM PDT

  •  I agree (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Crider, Mark27, voicemail, Eyesbright, ER Doc

    It wouldn't be as bad if the money went to stop smoking programs.  How about a luxury tax that would affect only the rich?

    Be well, ~*-:¦:-jennybravo-:¦:-*~

    by jennybravo on Sun May 12, 2013 at 10:50:20 AM PDT

  •  It's not really a sin tax. (23+ / 0-)

    Smoking causes health problems (and death). Smokers and the tobacco industry should pay for the costs to society borne by smoking, including lost productivity and higher medical expenses (not surprisingly, smoking does offer society savings in one respect - people who die prematurely due to smoking-related disease save us from having to spend money on them during old age). Since tobacco taxes both raise funds that can be used to offset the costs of smoking, and discourage smoking, they make for terrific policy.

    •  Exactly. (11+ / 0-)

      We've got tobacco and alcohol taxes that seek to minimize health issues through making unhealthy products prohibitively expensive.  Sadly, we still lack the same approach to sugar.

      •  I think soda should be taxed the same way (8+ / 0-)

        tobacco and alcohol are.

        Even if it's "Diet."

        P.S. I am not a crackpot.

        by BoiseBlue on Sun May 12, 2013 at 10:57:38 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Now Share With Me One Good Reason Why? (4+ / 0-)

          I swear you people are gonna honest-to-God bury the Democratic Party's prospects of winning elections with your calls for relentless financial assaults against the poor.

          •  Because sugar is one of the main factors (7+ / 0-)

            behind rising healthcare costs, and allow Republicans to scream bloody murder about things like 'Obamacare'.

            Without the obesity epidemic that has overtaken the country, which is not a matter of 'sin' or 'moral failings', but is a direct result of food products directly designed to turn us all into 'addicts', our national debt would be lower, as would our deficits, and we wouldn't have an overburdened healthcare system.

            •  Wrong.....Old Age Is The Main Factor...... (0+ / 0-)

              .....behind rising health care costs.....that and America's uniquely dysfunctional and wasteful health care delivery system.  But how offensive the premise is to you as a medical professional, and I can understand how you'd bristle at this libertarian argument, but tobacco and sugar are both responsible for reducing health care costs because they lower life expectancies......which is why "sin taxes" as health care user fees is the diametric opposite of reality.

              •  Sorry, you're just wrong. (10+ / 0-)

                As a health professional, I've actually had classes on treating older adults, and the honest truth is that much of the ill health issues we as a society consider 'normal' to aging, simply aren't.  They're the result of long term exposure to unhealthy environments or chronic conditions established in prior years, not a function of aging itself.

                Many older people stay healthy to the day they die, and the 'secret' to that is a healthy life all along, so that you don't have to treat the resulting problems from an unhealthy youth.

                •  Wow You Are Really Putting Yourself Out On A Limb. (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:


                  Are you seriously telling me that a nation poised to quadruple its incidence of Alzheimer's disease because of its unnaturally expanding life expectancy will actually SAVE money as a result of that?  And the decades per person worth of intensive nursing home care that will result in that?  While smokers and overweight people who die at 65 is where our real health care costs are?  

                  Unfortunately, it's pretty clear we're gonna have to learn this lesson the hard way.....the VERY hard way where a nation of bean-sprout eating Mike Bloomberg followers are told the day they turn 65 that the Social Security and Medicare money is all gone....and they'll have to fend for themselves.  That's the nation's future if we keep living in this fantasy world.

                  •  Well, for one, I'm telling you I don't think (5+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    wu ming, allergywoman, ER Doc, skohayes, fluffy

                    Alzheimer's is a function of the aging process.  Last I'd heard, they hadn't traced it back to original antecedents, but not everyone who lives 'X years' automatically gets it, which pretty much means it's either genetic or environmental in nature (or some mix of the two).  Finding the actual causation will determine whether or not there's an easy way to reduce incidence, and therefore costs.  Simply killing everyone who reaches a certain age to 'save money' is the laziest way to solve any problem.

                    And now you've morphed onto the 'OMG, there's no more SS money' argument.  You're really cleaning up on putting out those RW talking points today.

                    •  It's Hardly A Right-Wing Talking Point...... (0+ / 0-)

                      It's simple math.  Are you implying the money will all be there for Social Security and Medicare if we go on autopilot?  Just trying to get a handle on your level of alternative reality here.  I don't think there's a single Democrat in Washington who doesn't think these programs have pending funding problems....or that a glut of more old people living longer will expedite those funding problems.

                      As for the "simply killing everyone who reaches a certain age to save money" meme, it's not a matter of killing people, it's a matter of allowing people to a live a risky lifestyle at their discretion, which just happens to offer the fringe benefit of lower costs to society.  Understand that I'm not advocating smoking and obesity, only the freedom to engage in them without unjust state persecution based on lies about costs to society.

                      •  It's a temporary demographic bulge issue (2+ / 0-)
                        Recommended by:
                        allergywoman, a gilas girl

                        and can be completely 'fixed' simply by raising the SS income cap.

                        And if we can get a handle on obesity, we can drastically cut medicare spending to boot.  A hell of a lot of healthcare dollars are blown on treating individuals with chronic conditions that are preventable, but not prevented simply because 'freedom!'.  

                        We make a big deal over individual rights, such as the right to be suckered by corporations into indulging or overindulging in their products through slick ad campaigns and research into how to make their products ever more irresistible.  Is the freedom to be treated like a rube and parted from your money for things that you're being told you want really that important?

                        What if, instead, we tried telling people how to enjoy life in ways that didn't lead to self-destruction, rather than cheering on the 'freedom' to go to Hell in a handbasket simply to fatten corporate profits?

              •  You turned "one of the main factors" (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                JamieG from Md

                Into no, something else is THE main factor. And, you're missing the main point -- the last car on the train is always the caboose. If smoking lowers life expectancy and N% of healthcare costs per person come at the end of life, guess what? They just come earlier.

                Why don't you go fight for a progressive tax code and stop blowing smoke at us?

                I'm from the Elizabeth Warren wing of the Democratic Party

                by voicemail on Sun May 12, 2013 at 12:08:02 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

              •  This is simply not true (3+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                terrybuck, ER Doc, JamieG from Md

                the costs of aging are not responsible for the greatest health care costs.

                It is the costs of treating and managing chronic diseases (especially those that are presenting in younger and younger populations, like heart disease and diabetes).  

                Words can sometimes, in moments of grace, attain the quality of deeds. --Elie Wiesel

                by a gilas girl on Sun May 12, 2013 at 01:54:21 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  Thought Experiment..... (0+ / 0-)

                  Who do you think ran up the highest lifetime health care bill.....former-President and long-time Alzheimer's patient Ronald Reagan....or former Beatle and short-time lung cancer patient George Harrison?

                  Do you really think a nation of more Ronald Reagans and fewer George Harrisons results in lower medical costs?

            •  that's the trap (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:

              Conservatives get to attack universal healthcare from the elitist and populist sides simultaneously, and each side amplifies the other.

              On the one hand "you're gonna have to pay for that lard-assed fat fuck's diabetes" and on the other hand "commu-socialist govenmint is going to take away your Mountain Dew." Every time they get any traction on one side of that equation, the other side gets stronger, and so on.

              To defuse that feedback loop you have to pick one side or the other, and make it extremely clear that either rich people won't be forced to pay for poor people's choices, or poor people won't be forced to alter their behavior to save rich people money.

              For whatever reason progressives seem to love the rich peoples' favorite solution here, "nudge" taxes. That way the poor have their behavior constrained, the rich are immune since the tax amounts are low enough, and it helps bolster the conservative case that people need to "deserve" government services. Which backs up drug testing for welfare and everything else.

          •  And I swear to god that people like you (6+ / 0-)

            Who believe that only the poor have bad lifestyle habits, really make me want to kick the shins of every libertarian I know.

            Do I really have to explain why soda is unhealthy?

            P.S. I am not a crackpot.

            by BoiseBlue on Sun May 12, 2013 at 11:12:24 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  You Don't Have To Explain Why Soda Is Unhealthy... (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              i love san fran, kyril

              ....but you do have to explain why it's any of government's business to micromanage its people's choices to consume unhealthy soda.

              •  No, we don't have to explain (1+ / 1-)
                Recommended by:
                Hidden by:

                Trying to explain anything to Losertarians is a waste of time.

                •  "Losertarians"? Sounds Like Something Mark Levin. (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:

                  .....would say.  Thanks for such a gutteral contribution to the debate.

                •  HR for personal attack, calling a longtime user (0+ / 0-)

                  (who i very much disagree with, mind you) a loser.

                  20, CA-18 (home), CA-13 (school)
                  Socially libertarian, moderate on foreign policy, immigration, and crime, liberal on everything else.
                  UC Berkeley; I think I'm in the conservative half of this city. -.4.12, -4.92

                  by jncca on Sun May 12, 2013 at 01:47:40 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

              •  because people's individual choices to consume (0+ / 0-)

                unhealthy soda have in both the short and long run very serious social and public health consequences for the society as a whole.  Which means matters of individual choice are also matter of public policy.

                Both of these things can be true at the same time.

                The same connection between individual choice and social costs that libertarians always refuse to acknowledge.

                Words can sometimes, in moments of grace, attain the quality of deeds. --Elie Wiesel

                by a gilas girl on Sun May 12, 2013 at 01:59:43 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

        •  I'd agree to this IF all caffine products were (0+ / 0-)

          also taxed.  From soda to tea to 'energy drinks' to coffee.

          •  please explain caffeine's public health problems (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            FG, terrybuck

            and how it costs society through people's use of and addiction to caffeine. supporting evidence too, if you don't mind.

            the problem with soda isn't caffeine, it's sugar and corn syrup.

            •  Sorry but that was snark and you missed the other (0+ / 0-)

              point of the above comment where they said 'diet' also.  No sugar in any form.  FYI - HFCS is sugar, hence the fructose in the name.

              Hey I'm addicted to caffeine but hate coffee so use diet drinks for my fix.  Also I'm sure somewhere there is a study finding some link to public health and caffeine but frankly I really don't care.

            •  Caffeine, it increasingly seems, is (0+ / 0-)

              Downright good for you. Or at least coffee is.  Have you been reading the health headlines over the last year? Strong possibility coffee drinking has anti-cancer effects, among other emerging benefits.

        •  Why diet though? It doesn't cause any (0+ / 0-)


          •  Because It's Not About Health Problems..... (1+ / 1-)
            Recommended by:
            Hidden by:

   these people.  It's about shaming those they deem their moral inferiors.  It's the same reason why e-cigarettes, which emit harmless water vapor, are being included in smoking ban language.  Most people pushing smoking bans and sin taxes are more concerned with scoring the schoolyard bully suckerpunch to the gut than they are in public health.

      •  Soda pop tax desperately needed (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Mark27, johnny wurster

        They disgust me with their fizzy swill. I think they should have to waddle out of the restaurant and drink outside.

        "Societies strain harder and harder to sustain the decadent opulence of the ruling class, even as it destroys the foundations of productivity and wealth." — Chris Hedges

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

        [ Parent ]

    •  Clearly You Haven't Read The Diary..... (3+ / 0-)

      .....because in it I dispelled the notion of "costs to society" from smoking.  Smokers run up lifetime health care bills $100,000 per person less than healthy weight nonsmokers.  Whatever the ethics of that may be the math is pretty clear that the concept of cigarette taxes as user fees is the diametric opposite of reality.

      •  You know (or should know, since you (7+ / 0-)

        are quoting it) that the estimates of costs and savings due to smoking are all over the place. Suffice it to say that smokers have much higher rates of heart disease and cancer, and that those afflictions are very costly to treat. Smokers also have shorter working lives and take more sick days. And yes, they die younger. Adding up all of these costs, and netting the positives from the negatives, is subject to a great deal of interpretation. But the fact that the only reason there is a "savings" at all is because smoking causes premature death should be a signal to you that taxing its use is something a benevolent government should do (if not outright banning it). Here we have a deadly substance that is also physically addictive. And you think the government should take a laissez-faire approach (the tax authority of the government is, by far, the most powerful way any government has to take action, apart from outright banning).

        •  Heart Disease And Cancer Are Comparatively Cheap.. (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          i love san fran, kyril

 to Alzheimer's, dementia, and the diseases of old age that are most common among healthy weight nonsmokers.  Every study that has measured the lifetime health care costs of nonsmokers along with the lifetime health care costs of smokers has showed smokers are much cheaper.....but most such studies have a political agenda with findings used as a pretext to justify "cracking down on smoking", so they conveniently leave out the context of smoking-related health care costs versus nonsmoking-related health care costs.

          And I also completely disagree with your premise that "the only reason there is a "savings" at all is because smoking causes premature death should be a signal to you that taxing its use is something a benevolent government should do".  People should have the freewill to live their lives as they choose knowing the risks of such behavior, and if there is no monetary state interest in regulating such behavior (which there isn't), then you're just legislating morality by continuing to micromanage it....and legislating morality is, or rather was, the other guys' domain.

        •  I think he's counting "die younger" (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          gustynpip, sandbox, wu ming

          on the plus side of the balance sheet, since those who die before age 65 presumably save Medicare $$.

          "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 11:54:59 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  The only one (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    coquiero, wu ming, stunvegas

    forcing a financial burden on your family is you.

    Are you really saying that if you had to choose between cigarettes and food/heat/mortgage you would refuse to cut back on your habit and hurt your family?

    I'm not sure of your intent here, but it seems like a swing and a miss.

    We've been spelling it wrong all these years. It's actually: PRO-GOP-ANDA

    by Patriot4peace on Sun May 12, 2013 at 10:56:56 AM PDT

  •  For the smokers—advice— (4+ / 0-)

    I'm not a smoker anymore but I was for nearly two decades.

    I also don't work for any e-cigarette company.

    But I want to heartily recommend e-cigarettes. BEFORE anyone starts to rail about unknown risks and so on, let me encourage you to take these steps:

    1. Find a store that sells parts made by JoyE (an OEM), not brands.

    2. Get a battery and a tank/atomizer in your hand. Look at it. It's a battery and a little heating element.

    3. Order some PLAIN, unflavored vegetable glycerin "e-juice," USP grade, in your preferred pure nicotine level (or 0mg if you want nicotine-free glycerin).

    Try it.

    Sure, there are "brands" in the stores that have flavorings of who-knows what variety and are expensive.

    But at it's simplest, these things are fairly cheap ($30 for a complete setup that will last) and consist of a heating element and GRAS (generally regarded as safe—FDA category) vegetable glycerin and water that is vaporized.

    Do it right and there are no flavorings, no extra associated costs, no smoke, no odor, and tremendously reduced risk to you—and you can taper down your nicotine concentration until it reaches 0.

    And it works—I haven't smoked in two years, and my nicotine concentration went from 24mg/ml down to 6mg/ml, and I'm already going days at a time at 0mg/ml.

    -9.63, 0.00
    "Liberty" is deaf, dumb, and useless without life itself.

    by nobody at all on Sun May 12, 2013 at 10:58:48 AM PDT

  •  Oy. (10+ / 0-)

    I am a 35 year heavy smoker. I won't be anywhere near your boycott. I was an idiot for starting and since one of the ideas behind higher taxes on cigs is to get people to quit I am not complaining.

    Sorry but the glibertarian argument that helps the GOP is a non starter for me.

    Most of the people taking a hard line against us are firmly convinced that they are the last defenders of civilization... The last stronghold of mother, God, home and apple pie and they're full of shit! David Crosby, Journey Thru the Past.

    by Mike S on Sun May 12, 2013 at 10:59:59 AM PDT

    •  It could also become issue in Democratic (0+ / 0-)

      Mayor primary in NYC.--if one of the candidates says that ban on cigarette smoking on public beaches and public parks should be reversed.

      •  Is your argument that lifting the ban on smoking (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        at beaches and parks would help a candidate advocating such a position?

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

        by Bob Johnson on Sun May 12, 2013 at 12:32:04 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  It Might...... (0+ / 0-)

          Smokers looking for freedom to smoke at beaches and parks would likely be more motivated to cast their ballot for the candidate taking that position than nonsmokers would be motivated to cast a ballot against a candidate taking that position.

          This dynamic is why I'm saying the never-ending assault on smokers is bad politics.  There's very few people who will vote for Candidate A because she raised cigarette taxes.  But there are gonna be far more people who will vote against Candidate A because she raised cigarette taxes.

          •  Heh. (9+ / 0-)

            I'm pretty sure it would have the opposite effect. The vast majority who don't smoke are thankful that smoking is no longer allowed in these public spaces. Trying to bring smoking back would engender a significant backlash against any candidate making such a suggestion.

            If this was a good idea in terms of electability, someone would have tried it already.

            Your belief that voters would vote as a bloc also seems a bit wacky and unsupported.

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

            by Bob Johnson on Sun May 12, 2013 at 12:50:53 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

          •  I'm sure the non-smoking public would have (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            a2nite, Glen The Plumber, terrybuck

            a problem with Candidate A coddling smokers more than smokers would support Candidate A.

            Smoking is disgusting, it's foul. No one wants to eat in a smoky restaurant.

            Again, I say this as a smoker. I prefer smoking outside. It's nasty to smoke inside, even most smokers can't stand it.

            So your assumption that smokers would support a candidate based on their smoking preference is incredibly misguided, and it ignores the reality that besides a few loons, non-smokers are more likely to appreciate laws aimed at smokers. And there are more non-smokers in this country than there are smokers.  

            P.S. I am not a crackpot.

            by BoiseBlue on Sun May 12, 2013 at 12:52:04 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

          •  Oy squared. Reposting my comment here (0+ / 0-)

            since you like to prognosticate like Dick Morris. He too reaches into his nether regions to come up with shit.


            I live in one of the more restrictive (0+ / 0-)
            cities for smoking. No smoking on the beach, the pier, within 20 feet of the door to an open building, parks, bus stops... and coming up soon we will be having to register our apartments and condos as "designated smoking areas."

            While none of us like that we still remain one of the most reliably Democratic cities in the state.

            Most of the people taking a hard line against us are firmly convinced that they are the last defenders of civilization... The last stronghold of mother, God, home and apple pie and they're full of shit! David Crosby, Journey Thru the Past.

            by Mike S on Sun May 12, 2013 at 01:59:32 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

          •  Mark, you are in denial (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            I've been there, seeing it as my right to do what I want to my own body.

            The day you are diagnosed with cancer all that denial will fall away and you will bitterly regret smoking and wish for more life, even if it comes with a costly and senile old age.

            I saw it happen to people I loved once too often. Addiction is warping your thinking. Cigarette companies have you enslaved and defending their right to kill.

            Only a hardcore ex-smoker knows how true this is.  But you know it before you quit on some level.  I know you do.

            •  Not Sure If You Read That I'm A Nonsmoker...... (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:

              .....but I am.  I'm not personally affected by any of this beyond seeing my friends and family members who smoke being unjustly mugged and vilified.  While your perspective on mortality is understandable and probably quite common, I don't think it's the government's role to make that decision for anybody and I definitely don't think it's government's role to impose financial hardship on those who don't agree with you.

              •  I missed that (0+ / 0-)

                a non-smoker standing up for smokers' "rights" is certainly a novelty act.

                In 30 years no one will still smoke cigarettes and almost anyone who ever did will be dead.  At least in the US.  There is no political percentage in fighting for the smoker vote.

                In my experience the vast majority of heavy smokers I know are right wing already anyway.  Not all, but most. I'd live to see some actual polling on that.

                •  They Were Saying The Same Thing 30 Years Ago..... (0+ / 0-)

                  I remember there was a specific campaign when I was in elementary about the "Smokefree Class of 2000".  Ironically, the smoking rates in the class of 2000 were higher than they were for the class of 1989, which was about the timeframe when the initiative was undertaken.    Ultimately I suspect the population of smokers will decline as a percentage in the generation ahead, but stay fairly consistent in overall numbers at the 40-45 million range where it's been pretty much since the 60s.

                  One thing we agree on, however, is that I'd love to see a study on the political affiliation of smokers.  You're probably right that a growing percentage of them are Republicans given that the white working-class is the demographic most likely to smoke, but for whatever little it's worth, almost all of the smokers I know are Democrats.

      •  I live in one of the more restrictive (0+ / 0-)

        cities for smoking. No smoking on the beach, the pier, within 20 feet of the door to an open building, parks, bus stops... and coming up soon we will be having to register our apartments and condos as "designated smoking areas."

        While none of us like that we still remain one of the most reliably Democratic cities in the state.

        Most of the people taking a hard line against us are firmly convinced that they are the last defenders of civilization... The last stronghold of mother, God, home and apple pie and they're full of shit! David Crosby, Journey Thru the Past.

        by Mike S on Sun May 12, 2013 at 01:56:38 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  Yup (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      JamieG from Md

      Virgin Islands Smokes: $2.25/pack
      I smoked for 5 years in the Virgin Islands

      Maui: $10/pack
      I quit after 2 months

      Thailand: $2.25/pack
      I smoked for 3 years there

      Washington State: $10/pack
      I quit after 3 months here and stay quit after 1 year

      Do we see a pattern here?

      There was only one joker in L.A. sensitive enough to wear that scent...and I had to find out who he was!

      by virginislandsguy on Sun May 12, 2013 at 01:28:27 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  I think those of us who still smoke ... (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    BoiseBlue, gustynpip, RocketJSquirrel

    Mostly recognize that it's addiction and don't fret the taxes. If the taxes go for good cause, all the better. If the taxes remind us of all the reasons we should quit and add motivation, swell.

    I mean, that may make the program difficult to fund. That's a good problem to have, though.

    by Magenta on Sun May 12, 2013 at 11:01:19 AM PDT

    •  It's a Terrible Problem To Have...... (3+ / 0-)

      .....because it's a budgetary trainwreck.  We should at least be able to agree on the financial aspect of this.....that proposing to fund a massive new federal program with money you expect and hope to never come is budgetary malpractice on the same order as starting two wars and never paying for it.

      And while you may certainly speak for many progressive-minded smokers about not fretting the taxes because you feel you deserve to be punished by the government, I suspect you don't speak for most.  If my "sins" are being singled out in a way that imposes genuinely financial hardship on me and my family, it's gonna affect the way I vote.

      •  The financial side is a different issuue (3+ / 0-)

        And you'd probably find a lot of agreement here on that.

        But smoking already causes financial hardship. It's an expensive habit. If an extra dollar for a pack of cigarettes is going to break a family, they'll probably not buy cigarettes anymore.

        So, yes, trying to fund something with a sin tax is a stupid idea and you won't get a lot of argument out of anyone here about that.

        But taxing tobacco is sound financial policy otherwise.

        P.S. I am not a crackpot.

        by BoiseBlue on Sun May 12, 2013 at 11:18:24 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  The Effective Cost Increase Would Be $2 A Pack.... (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          i love san fran, kyril

          .....because of all the price increases down the distribution line that will take effect in the aftermath of a $1-per-pack increase.  If you're paying $6 for a pack of cigarettes today, that will grow to $8 a pack after the tax increase.

          And clearly you are never gonna agree with me on the morality of this, but do you really believe that artificially increasing the price of a product that sells for 60 cents on the international market to $8, $10, $12, $14, etc. is a zero-consequence proposition?

    •  Magenta (0+ / 0-)

      spot on.  It's how I felt for my many years of smoking. On some level I even appreciated the state trying to slap me awake with the price.  

      Please consider quitting. You can do it.  You feel so much better within weeks. And richer too.  $300 a month adds up over time.

  •  Well, I'm convinced! I just started smoking... (6+ / 0-)

    ...and being a Libertarian.

  •  "Democratic smokers sitting out the next election" (5+ / 0-)

    46 million strong!!

    Throw in the Big Gulp Militants and you've got the formula for a full-blown REVOLUTION!!

    "Trust me... I've been right before." ~ Tea party patriot

    by Calvino Partigiani on Sun May 12, 2013 at 11:06:34 AM PDT

  •  I'm more concerned with a different tipping point (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    there is a point where going after something too hard makes it appear cooler and more attractive to young folks. There is also a point where making a legal product too expensive by taxes will create a black market. I'm more concerned with both of these trends than any sort of political blow back.

    -1.63/ -1.49 "Speaking truth to power" (with snark of course)!

    by dopper0189 on Sun May 12, 2013 at 11:09:37 AM PDT

    •  Actually, if it was really 'hard to get' (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      the problem would largely go away.  They problem is making it look cool and rebellious while it's really only mildly difficult to get.

    •  We're Already At That Point...... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      In the highest taxed jurisdictions, a double-digit percentage of cigarette sales are black market.  That number will keep increasing if politicians can't rein in their gluttony here.  And you don't even want to know what kind of characters are spearheading the tobacco black market, but suffice it to say there's better than even odds that the next major terrorist attack waged against America (or Israel for that matter) will have been financed by the tobacco black market.

  •  I think fettucine alfredo should be taxed (4+ / 0-)

    extra too.  And Mercedes Benz automobiles, no matter what Janis Joplin said.

    "I'm an antiwar propagandist as accused by democrats. Not even republicans have called me that."

    by BigAlinWashSt on Sun May 12, 2013 at 11:25:08 AM PDT

  •  If I went through your diary and substituted... (11+ / 0-)

    ... "guns" everywhere you have "cigarettes" or "smoking" then we'd have the exact same argument the gun crowd makes all the time.

    The electorate can be broken down into hundreds of thousands of subsets based on the same logic.

    If all of these subsets were, indeed, single-issue voters, then maybe you'd have a case. But I don't think that's true for cigarettes or guns or any number of other subgroups.

    But, hey, a smoker can dream (as you are here)!

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

    by Bob Johnson on Sun May 12, 2013 at 11:43:48 AM PDT

    •  As It Applies To Election Outcomes...... (0+ / 0-) could substitute guns and argue that it could change voting behaviors.  And to some degree you'd be right.  It's not an apples-to-apples comparison though since guns represent a credible public safety threat while tobacco does not (and before you even get into "secondhand smoke", the smoking bans in place nearly everywhere has killed whatever threat real or imagined ever existed from secondhand smoke).

      And certainly those of us who are progressive-minded should have much greater ethical problems with the rising tide of monstrously regressive sin taxes than with background checks for guns, so my call to arms here, no pun intended, should have more takers in a community like Daily Kos than a call for gun owners to boycott Democrats over background checks.

      •  Well, by closing off an entire portion of rational (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        doc2, a2nite, JamieG from Md

        ... argument, you ignore the truth.

        Smoking costs this country probably billions of dollars a year in uncovered medical coverage. And that's ignoring your cordoned-off section of secondhand smoke.

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

        by Bob Johnson on Sun May 12, 2013 at 12:18:16 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Apparently You Haven't Been Following..... (0+ / 0-)

          .....the rest of the comments thread.  Smoking does not cost billions of dollars per year in uncovered medical saves billions of dollars per year in medical costs because smokers die younger and in less cost-intensive ways than nonsmokers.  Even if that wasn't true, there's no way to defend raising cigarette taxes to pay for universal pre-K.

          •  You're wrong. (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            a2nite, JamieG from Md

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

            by Bob Johnson on Sun May 12, 2013 at 12:52:52 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

              •  One study from 2008? (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                a2nite, JamieG from Md

                Here's a more comprehensive look.

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

                by Bob Johnson on Sun May 12, 2013 at 01:08:48 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  Actually A Much Less Comprehensive Look..... (0+ / 0-)

                  It asks a question and then refuses to give an answer in context, effectively forgetting about the whole part of what that person would run up in health care bills if they didn't smoke.  The premise in this study remains the same as the others forwarding an agenda of punishing smokers.....the premise that those who don't smoke will never get sick, will live forever, and will have health care costs of $0.00.  The fact that they're suggesting the costs for 24 year old male smokers is $220,000 for men but only $106,000 for women, more than twice as much, should tell you all you need to know about the studies' statistical merit.  

                  Just think about what you're trying to sell me here.  Smoking has fallen by more than half over the last two generations, so if smoking represents such a disproportionate burden on the health care system, wouldn't we already be seeing health care costs go down?  Rather than rising at historically high margins?  It just doesn't add all.

                  •  What about the income generated (0+ / 0-)

                    by the non-smokers in the extra years they live? Were you factoring that in?

                    Shop Liberally this holiday season at Kos Katalog

                    by JamieG from Md on Sun May 12, 2013 at 07:40:32 PM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  Not Really Because...... (0+ / 0-)

                      Even smokers have a life expectancy of 65 (the last I saw anyway...perhaps the figure is obsolete) which happens to be the same as the retirement age.  For better or worse, the years of life lost by smokers and the obese are, on average, the years in which they are consuming public resources rather than contributing them.  Again, not trying to sound like Mitt Romney with that, but it's a risk borne out by the person who decides to smoke, and I believe it's a risk that they should be respected as adults enough to make.

      •  secondhand smoke inside the home (4+ / 0-)

        My girlfriend was raised by two smokers.  She has asthma.  While asthma won't likely cost her a lot of money, it negatively affects her life.

        My great-grandmother died of lung cancer which she got from being around her husband's smoking (she never smoked).

        Secondhand smoke kills in private, not just in public.

        20, CA-18 (home), CA-13 (school)
        Socially libertarian, moderate on foreign policy, immigration, and crime, liberal on everything else.
        UC Berkeley; I think I'm in the conservative half of this city. -.4.12, -4.92

        by jncca on Sun May 12, 2013 at 01:53:04 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Wait awhile...they'll soon be dead. (0+ / 0-)

    On a lighter note, just from casual observation of smokers I'm aware of, I would suggest that most of them don't vote.

    •  Never missed an election. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      kyril, Catesby

      Nor have the vast majority of my friends who smoke.

      Most of the people taking a hard line against us are firmly convinced that they are the last defenders of civilization... The last stronghold of mother, God, home and apple pie and they're full of shit! David Crosby, Journey Thru the Past.

      by Mike S on Sun May 12, 2013 at 12:20:47 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  well (0+ / 0-)

        Do you smoke three packs a day?  Because that is what the diarist is implying the average smoker smokes.  That strikes me as a lot.  Assume 8 hours of sleep, that is a cigarette every 16 waking minutes.  It usually takes longer than 16 minutes to vote...

        •  The diarist has pulled far more (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          than that ridiculous average out of his ass.

          At my very worst I was 3 packs a day. That was when I had 2 part time, extremely boring jobs so I had a shit load of time on my hands. Now it is a pack to a pack and a half. My wife is at a half pack to a pack.

          Most of the people taking a hard line against us are firmly convinced that they are the last defenders of civilization... The last stronghold of mother, God, home and apple pie and they're full of shit! David Crosby, Journey Thru the Past.

          by Mike S on Sun May 12, 2013 at 02:03:41 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  The Average Smoker Smokes About A Pack A Day..... (0+ / 0-)

          .....and since a 94-cent per pack tax increase would equate to about a $2-per-pack price increase due to the increased costs down the distribution line, and on top of sales taxes to boot, we're talking about $1,000 here.  Not exactly a small sum for households with a median income of $30,000 per year, especially considering it's on top of thousands of dollars per year of existing cigarette taxes at the state and federal level.

    •  Many serious smokers don't (0+ / 0-)

      fly, don't travel by train, don't eat in restaurants, and may indeed not vote because of the time between cigs.  

      So, maybe it's a poll tax?

      I'm from the Elizabeth Warren wing of the Democratic Party

      by voicemail on Sun May 12, 2013 at 12:27:22 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Yes, smoking is bad for your health, however (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    i love san fran, Mark27, kyril

    tobacco is still a legal substance. High cigarette taxes are regressive against lower income individuals--who tend to smoke more.   If we're not going to outlaw cigarettes--and I don't think we should--then let's give it a rest on taxing cigarettes out of existence.

  •  Crack prices are too high! (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Mike S, Gary Norton, doroma, 1BQ

    I swear, if Obama doesn't drive down crack prices, I'm not gonna' vote!

    Of course, I'm usually too fucked up on crack to vote, anyway.

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

    by Bob Johnson on Sun May 12, 2013 at 12:12:26 PM PDT

  •  Statistically, I have no idea about your (0+ / 0-)

    argument. I have no clue. Smoking has become rarer in recent decades than it was, say, in the 1950s. Do a significant proportion of voters still smoke?

    I'm a nonsmoker, too. I have problems, ethically, with taxing packs of smokes to discourage smoking. This is a regressive tax. Since smokers are poor, on average, you are taxing people who can ill afford it. You should be taxing tobacco corporations. To ensure that taxing tobacco corporations makes them less profitable, the government should also regulate the price of packs at the drugstore.

    It's here they got the range/ and the machinery for change/ and it's here they got the spiritual thirst. --Leonard Cohen

    by karmsy on Sun May 12, 2013 at 12:59:17 PM PDT

    •  46 Million Americans....No Telling How Many Voters (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      .....that includes, but we're still talking a pretty huge chunk of the population, probably larger than either blacks or Hispanics.

      •  That's incredible. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        I live in a big metropolitan area. I currently make money at an occupation where I interact with all ethnic and cultural backgrounds and all social strata. Smokers, in my experience, are rarer than hen's teeth.

        Then again, in 2004, I said the exact same thing about Republicans...

        It's here they got the range/ and the machinery for change/ and it's here they got the spiritual thirst. --Leonard Cohen

        by karmsy on Sun May 12, 2013 at 02:59:32 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  I Think "Big Metropolitan Area" Is The Wild Card.. (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          Urban residents tend to be the least likely to smoke, and urban areas tend to be the areas where smoking in public is most frowned upon.  Probably a good bet that the many of the people you're seeing are smokers, just not on the city streets.  And more likely yet that if you took a business trip to smaller cities and towns, you'd see a lot more smokers.  I live in metropolitan Des Moines and still see smokers every single day.

          •  Oh, I go into peoples' homes (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            in the course of work. I know if folks smoke at home, and in my experience, it's a rare practice.

            Might be, as you point out, it's rarer in a large metropolitan area than it would be in rural parts of the state.

            It's here they got the range/ and the machinery for change/ and it's here they got the spiritual thirst. --Leonard Cohen

            by karmsy on Sun May 12, 2013 at 03:27:49 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

  •  Good luck with that. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    a gilas girl

    Just go chuck loads of cigs in the Boston Harbor while your at it.

    The republicans calling the shots care no more about libertarian ideals than they do the religious values of the tea party. If you think anything to lower a 'sin tax' will come from them, your pipe ain't puffing tobacco. Those taxes get to go into 'pet' programs, supporting their cronies AND they get to give big subsidies to tobacco farms. If it isn't directing money their way, they will not care about it. If they can 'punish' people in the process, even better. This is a pervasive view even in the libertarian movement. (I deal with more libertarian republicans than religious ones where I live.)

    While many democrats are no better, at least there's a chance of moving the party as whole to a more progressive frame of mind.

    As for 'sin taxes'? I support 'em, at reasonable levels. (Taxing something out of existence is no better than outlawing it, but it can be a fine line.) Mainly because you can't stop people from doing stupid shit but you can make them think twice via the cost. Secondly, when an activity is a costly burden on the public (health, pollution), I do think those that chose to do that activity should help more to clean it up. I'd just like to be sure those taxes go to the programs for that 'sin'.

    I am much too liberal to be a Democrat.

    by WiseFerret on Sun May 12, 2013 at 01:11:41 PM PDT

  •  Hysterics over a costly habit. (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    a gilas girl, FG, Chas 981, roberb7

    Smoking is a massive burden on the health system, especially now in the elderly care parts of it (medicare, for example) where the late-stage smoking diseases come up like emphysema.

    I don't have numbers but taxing smokers now and having people kick the habit heralds savings in all manner of pulmonary health care down the road. It also defunds moneyed interests who have traditionally backed the GOP more than the Dems.

    Smoking is a public health issue as the smoke you exhale ("second-hand") and the residue it leaves ("third-hand") are harmful to people who have never smoked. It's been found over and over that taxes are very effective at driving cessation rates. If the revenue stream dries up, then cost savings will be found elsewhere because people will have quit in such large numbers.

    Is it perfect? No, but addiction is addiction and no amount of clever advertising alone will break every case of addiction. It may keep people from picking up the habit, but not many smokers quit because of the Truth ads. They quit because they've been priced out. I'd like to see a portion of the funds going towards subsidizing cessation aids and therapy (gum, patch, etc) but I'd rather have what we've got than nothing at all.

    "That great things take many people working together, to make them happen, is one of the fantastic things of human existence." - Adam Steltzner

    by Fauxton on Sun May 12, 2013 at 01:16:41 PM PDT

    •  Sure It Is....Because Nonsmoking Alzheimer's..... (0+ / 0-)

      .....patients are free right?  The people buying into this idea that the declining consumption of tobacco is leading to disproportionately soaring costs of health care are sure in for a real-world gobsmacking when all the tyrannical means of micromanaging the peasantry's lifestyles only manages to raise health care costs still higher.

  •  I Smoke (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    a gilas girl, terrybuck

    I hate the tax being tweeked  up all the time. Would I vote Republican if it goes up again? No way. I live in NYS. When the tax last got raised, PA is just 40 miles west. I go once a month. NYS shares a large border with PA, raising the tax did not bring in more revenue - for NY, PA is making out. NYT had a story this week on Black Market Cigarettes, Imported and Illegal Manufactured. Make it too expensive and another supply line will appear.

  •  I sometimes wonder if the taxes will be so onerous (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    ....that people will start quitting and the income stream will dissolve.

    It's not just the feds, but many states, counties and cities have these taxes.

    I think governments at all levels are in danger of going to the well too often on these taxes.

    What happens to their budgets when these people quit because they finally can't afford it?

    "Michael Moore, who was filming a movie about corporate welfare called 'Capitalism: A Love Story,' sought and received incentives."

    by Bush Bites on Sun May 12, 2013 at 02:34:34 PM PDT

    •  Percentage of smokers decreases rather slowly. (0+ / 0-)

      And since government pays some of the health costs associated with smoking, some of its expenses will decrease as smoking rates decrease. Overall, revenue will drop but slow decrease in a fairly insignificant revenue source is not that big a deal.

  •  Smoking is not a sin (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Flying Goat, Chas 981, JamieG from Md

    It's a public health issue and a nuisance.

    My mom quit smoking in 1980, my dad quit in 1992 toward the end of his life (he had Crohn's Disease and therefore never should have started to smoke in the first place). I quit before either of them--in 1977. So yes, I might be a bit self-righteous. But I have to tell you that there are, to this day, glasses and cups in the back of my mom's cupboard that smell of tobacco smoke. I may have taken my first puff in 1968 but for all intents and purposes I was a smoker since before I was born.

    If smoking affected nobody except those who engaged in it, things might be a bit different, though there would still be publicly-paid medical costs associated with smoking. As it is, smoking affects those who never have and never will smoke. So why shouldn't the costs of dealing with that be covered by taxes on the source of the problem?

    Ours is a culture that is riddled with addictive behaviors, which the tobacco industry very gladly exploits for its profits. There's no question that they bear a considerable amount of the responsibility. But smokers have a responsibility as well, particularly when they live with people who don't smoke, and there's no reason to pretend otherwise.

  •  I'm a non-smoker, and (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    JamieG from Md

    basically don't care one way or the other about the level of cigarette taxes.  But it makes sense to me to tax a product that creates large social costs.  

    Calling it a "sin tax" evades that issue.  It's not a question of moral approval or disapproval.  It's a question of who pays society's costs that are created by a specific product, when those costs aren't fully paid by the product users or manufacturers.  (Here we're talking, mainly, medical expenses paid by all of us through taxes or our insurance premiums.  But the same reasoning would argue for a carbon tax, where the social costs are different.)

    As I understand it, Obama proposed a 94-cent-a-pack tax, so your reference to "another $1,000+ a year tax increase", assumes the average smoker smokes 3 or more packs a day, which seems a bit high.  The media consensus seems to be that the tax isn't going to happen, and isn't even being pushed by anybody.

    I don't know if another 94 cents makes the tax too high, or too low, to cover the social costs.  It would be interesting to see research on what the costs really are.  Treating it as a political hot potato doesn't help answer that question.

    •  The Nature Of Cigarette Tax Hikes..... (0+ / 0-) that everybody down the supply chain raises prices to adjust for expected profit a $1-per-pack tax increase will amount to an effective $2-per-pack price increase.  Add sales taxes on top of this and you're looking at $1,000 per year for a pack-a-day smoker, which is about the average consumption rate for a smoker.

      As for "society's costs", I've addressed this a bit in the diary and more in the comments section.  To put it bluntly, smokers die sooner and by less cost-intensive means than do nonsmokers....and actuarial studies have showed their lifetime health care bill is $100,000 less than healthy-weight nonsmokers as a result.  While that may seem ghoulish and is, it negates the argument that cigarette taxes are user fees for public services.  If we were to apply that standard, we'd be taxing bean sprouts, broccoli and Greek yogurt instead of cigarettes.  And when you take away the societal cost argument against cigarette taxes, all you're left with is legislating morality...and that's what the other guys do.

  •  Let me get this straight... (0+ / 0-)
    I really hope to rally an organized effort of "Democratic smokers sitting out the next election" in the state.
    You are planning to organize Democrats to sit out an election, effectively working to help put a republican in office? Seriously?

    Did you forget the primary goal of Daily Kos is to help elect more and better Democrats?

    Shop Liberally this holiday season at Kos Katalog

    by JamieG from Md on Sun May 12, 2013 at 07:48:52 PM PDT

    •  It's Become Clear..... (0+ / 0-)

      .....that the only way to elect more and better Democrats is to push back against this urge to weaponize tax policy against unfavored lifestyles.  As long as the Democrats are more interested in civilizing the rabble, they are not serving their stated public policy goals.  In the case of Minnesota, the state Senate is in Democratic hands and is not up for re-election in 2014, so the state is a perfect experiment to put the fear of God into Democratic lawmakers without a risk of full Republican empowerment of state government.

  •  Really? (0+ / 0-)

    Do you honestly believe that smokers will cease supporting a politician because he or she wants to tax their tobacco use? Find a real issue.

    •  What Amazes Me...... (0+ / 0-) that people like you honestly believe that smokers facing thousands of dollars per year in tobacco taxes would NOT alter their voting habits out of self-preservation.  You really have no idea how artificially expensive cigarettes are proportionate to smokers' incomes do you?  If you had the vaguest hint, you'd understand how huge of a hardship they're already facing even before Obama mugs them for an additional $1,000+ per year.

  •  First: The Democratic Party is not "the left." (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Second: "Sin taxes" are effective because they tax products that are highly price inelastic: IOW, as the price is raised by a given percent, sales go down by a smaller percent.
       Thus, a legal substance that is highly addictive can be heavily taxed and people will continue to buy it.
        I'd have some sympathy for the poor tobacco industry, except that our government has acreage restrictions on farmers in order to keep tobacco prices high, but then allows imported tobacco, undercutting the US farmer.
       So the family farmer has been forced out of the tobacco biz.
       The meme about medical costs of smokers is wrong, too. My father lived to be 83 years old. He died of lung cancer after being crippled by emphysema from about age 45. His medical expenses were staggering. And his ability to earn a living was restricted.
       Smokers need to quit. If higher taxes force people to quit, good.
        As for the tobacco industry: I say, God damn the pusher.

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