Unhealthy Lifestyles Fund Future Generations?

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According to President Obama’s recent budget proposal released today (two months late), he will hike taxes on tobacco products to fund preschool for kids. There are a couple of different things wrong with this part of his budget. The non-smokers will not care about this tax increase because it does not affect them directly. The marijuana smokers will not care about the new tax hike because it doesn’t affect them either. Beer, wine, hard liquor, or even casual wine drinkers will not care about this new tax hike because it does not affect them unless they are smokers too. The people who eat at fast food chains all of the time will not care because, hey, 30 grams of fat in an order of fries is fine as long as you don’t smoke.

So why am I complaining about a tax on something that is proven to be unhealthy for those who consume tobacco products such as cigarettes, “dip”, and cigars? Well, because we have gone through this before. We have been punished over and over for our choice to use tobacco, a legal product, sold in nearly every single store in the United States. 

Smokers have forked over more money to fund government spending in the past decade than any other group of consumers, barring gasoline transactions. At what point will the left decide to “spread the wealth” to other markets such as alcohol or the ever so popular marijuana that they want to be federally legalized? Image

The fact is that smoking is so unpopular and has been demonized by so many that the people who use it cannot say a word in opposition. It has become popular to, if you need some revenue for some government program, put it on the smokers. You can be the most considerate smoker on the face of the planet and you will still have complete strangers telling you that your cigarette offends them. They will be so bold as to actually tell you that you should quit. When you point out their own bad habits such as drinking or eating fast food, it turns into a heated debate about how your habit affects others and theirs does not.

So, it is because of this mindset that has been pushed and accepted by a large portion of the population, that taxing those horrible air polluting, inconsiderate, smokers more and more is perfectly fine. They deserve to pay more to be unhealthy.

Well, let’s look at this for a minute. What will Obama and the anti-smoking groups do when Imagethe taxes and costs get so high for a pack of cigarettes that smokers start taking the unsolicited advice and quit? Granted, that is not as likely as some of us would like it to be. Believe it or not, some smokers would like to quit but have reasons they don’t. I won’t get into that right now because its a whole other debate. But, let’s just say that a $15 pack of smokes would just be too much for smokers and they start kicking the habit. Where will the government get the revenue to fund the programs then? 

Secondly, the tax hike on cigarettes does not just affect rich people. Smoking is an addiction. Once one begins smoking, it is very difficult to quit. As a result, not only the wealthier individuals smoke or use other tobacco products. Many low income earners set aside portions of their income just for the purchase of cigarettes. Whether or not you agree with this is irrelevant. It is a fact that cannot be disputed and shows that any increase in taxes on tobacco will lessen the amount of income the poor have for other things. ImageAnyone familiar with addiction can tell you that when someone has a chemical dependency they will forego logical spending to accommodate their addiction. For the poor, this might not last long before they decide to give up smoking but the taxes will still affect them, even if it is in the short term.

ImageFor those that decide to eat the cost of cigarettes and continue to smoke, that leaves less money left in their pockets to spend at stores and restaurants. The once or twice a week family dinner at the Olive Garden may turn into once a month. Multiply this cut by millions and the effect on the business community could be devastating. But as long as the kids get free healthcare and go to preschool, who cares about the economy, right?

 

 

Lastly, think about this: which group of bad habit practicing people would be next. Want to bet it will be one of the groups I mentioned at the beginning? ImageUh huh. Yes, that’s right. While it might not affect you now, it could later on.

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Because if one group is willing to roll over and take the tax hikes over and over again, what makes you think they won’t come after your bad habit next? But, hey, what do I know? I’m just one of those unhealthy, inconsiderate smokers who funds low income healthcare for kids and, coming soon, preschool for everyone. My back is only so strong.Image

I will not carry all that weight for much longer. I am willing to bet that other smokers are starting to feel the same way.

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One thought on “Unhealthy Lifestyles Fund Future Generations?

  1. Here’s the “science” scaring the sheep. http://www.masterresource.org/2012/06/epas-flawed-science/

    At the heart of EPA claims about health benefits is a methodological change made in 2009 to the way it calculates the health risks from exposure to fine particulate matter. At a stroke, this change more than tripled the number of deaths attributable to ambient particulates. Since then, EPA has used this vast reserve of claimed deaths to justify virtually every one of its major new regulations, regardless of whether the regulations were targeted at particulates or not.

    Fine Particulate Matter, or PM2.5, is a catch-all category for natural and microscopic particles released from man-made activities, especially combustion. Wind, erosion, combustion and cooking are common sources of fine particles in the air. PM2.5 is also one of the six “criteria” pollutants listed in the original Clean Air Act, for which EPA must establish national ambient air quality standards (NAAQS) protective of public health with an adequate margin of safety.

    The EPA has not always been obsessed with PM2.5 as if a lethal inhalant. Toxicological data on PM2.5 indicate that current ambient levels are too low to cause significant disease or death. Instead of weighing this evidence from toxicological studies of the direct effects of fine particulates, EPA has long based its health effect estimates on epidemiological studies that compare death rates for cities with different ambient particulate levels.

    EPA current risk assessment for PM 2.5 favors two cherry-picked studies by authors with connections to EPA and disregards the many conflicting studies. On the basis of intricately manipulated statistical analysis and models, EPA concludes that there is a strong correlation between “early death” and ambient PM 2.5. And without subjecting these statistical associations to a causal framework, EPA assigns 100 percent probability – that is complete certainty- to the conclusion that PM2.5 causes premature mortality.

    Going to Zero

    On the basis of such implausible assumptions, EPA is now attributing mortal risks from exposure to pollutants below natural background levels approaching zero! In 2009, EPA began to extrapolate this correlation between PM2.5 and slightly elevated death rates beyond the statistical evidence in the relevant studies.

    Simply put, EPA decided that there is no safe level of ambient PM 2.5 – however near to zero — at which risk of ‘early” death ceases. Statisticians call this analytic approach a “no threshold linear regression to zero analytic model.” Statistical extrapolation involves the assumption that a quantitative relationship persists beyond the evidence on which it was based. Through the no-threshold assumption, EPA now finds that mortal risks increase in proportion that a location’s ambient level of PM 2.5 exceeds natural background levels.

    This methodology is not “data-free,” it also contradicts a foundational principle of toxicology, that it’s the dose that makes the poison. Almost any substance can harm you if taken in a large enough quantity, and in small enough quantities almost any substance is harmless. A tiny bit of radiation is actually good for you, whereas drinking a ton of water in afternoon will kill you.

    Lending credibility to EPA’s new calculations leads to absurd results. If EPA’s calculations are to be believed, 13 percent of all deaths in America are due to particulate matter, and particulate matter is responsible for between 16 and 22 percent of all deaths in much of the eastern United States.

    Co-benefits

    Oddly, EPA is capitalizing on the dramatically expanded risks from PM2.5 to justify almost all of the unprecedented air quality regulations collectively known as the train-wreck. These rules, however, do not directly target particulate matter. In justifying the slew of train-wreck rules, EPA is relying not on the benefits from reductions of the emissions directly regulated, but rather on “co-benefits” from coincidental reduction in fine particulates.

    In January, for example, EPA implemented new standards for mercury and other hazardous emissions from power plants. With annual compliance costs of more than $10 billion, the rule is by EPA’s own admission the most expensive ever promulgated under the Clean Air Act. Yet only $6 million, or 0.004 percent, of the rule’s claimed health benefits come from reductions in mercury, while over 99.9 percent derive from the so-called co-benefits from reducing PM 2.5.

    Over the last three years, EPA has released thirteen cost-benefit analyses for new regulations. In eleven of those cases, co-benefits from particulate matter were responsible for the majority of the claimed health benefits, and in six cases 100 percent of the claimed benefits came from reductions in particulate matter, not from the ostensible target of the regulation.

    Even if EPA’s benefits calculations for PM2.5 were accurate, such heavy reliance on co-benefits would be troubling. The CAA obligates the EPA to determine a national standard for particulate matter fully protective of public health. If reducing particulate matter had the enormous benefits that EPA’s analysis claims, it has a responsibility to lower the national ambient standard to a level that is actually protective of human health.

    Although the EPA is reviewing the current national standard for PM2.5, the Agency has in no way suggested lowering the current PM2.5 standard of 15 micrograms per cubic meter to concentrations as low as 1 or 2 micrograms. Yet, EPA is calculating risk of early death from levels that low in cost-benefit analyses.

    Conclusion

    EPA’s flawed scientific methodology is drawing increasing criticism from Congress and the National Academy of Science. Most citizens, however, would have no reason to or expertise to question EPA’s chilling declarations about early deaths. Environmental regulatory standards reflect a judgment about what is unacceptable societal risk.

    What the current EPA contends are decisions driven by pure science are, obviously, policy decisions not legitimate scientific findings. If left unchallenged, the high priests of rare science at the EPA would fatally undermine our democracy. Elected officials, not scientists or federal employees, must make this country’s major policy decisions if our form of government is to survive.

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