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?
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 the 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. Anyone 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.
For 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? Uh huh. Yes, that’s right. While it might not affect you now, it could later on.
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.
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.