So we're hearing a lot of noise from tobacco enthusiasts who are upset that the state will, for the first time, tax those little "cigars" that look like cigarettes, smoke like cigarettes, and are sold in packs like cigarettes.
Discriminatory, they decry! Predatory, they protest! As usual, they're partly right but mostly wrong.
They're partly right because the state has been historically inconsistent with the way it taxes tobacco products.
Some -- like cigarettes -- have been taxed at draconian levels for many years. Others -- like smokeless tobacco and cigars of all kinds -- have escaped taxation altogether.
How to explain this inconsistency? We chalk it up to a combination of cigarettes' dominant market share, and unrelenting pressure from lobbyists on behalf of cigars and smokeless tobacco.
The state could invalidate accusations of product favoritism by applying a consistent tax rate to all forms of tobacco, and it absolutely should as soon as possible.
As for the claim that tobacco taxes prey upon people addicted to a legal drug, we don't buy it. No one is ever forced to smoke or chew tobacco. It's a personal choice, and everyone nowadays knows that tobacco will first hook you and then kill you.
In the end, a sufficiently motivated human being can always simply quit using nicotine, and that's why the little cigar tax protestors are mostly wrong.
Besides, we just sampled one (some of us could not be persuaded, alas) and we're here to tell you: It was terrible. Anyone who smokes them, because they're a cheaper nicotine fix, ought to wonder whether it would be less painful to simply quit smoking.
Thursday, October 22, 2009
Source: Chambersburg Public Opinion