You might as well smoke a dollar bill.

It’s official. 32 representatives (and I use the word loosely) in the New York State Senate, along with 77 legislators in the Assembly can now be considered worse than dope dealers. The tobacco tax increases I blogged about last week passed.  I believe the taxes will increase on July 1st. (Cigarette smokers… stock up now.)

But wait, there’s more to the story.  According to a Rick Karlin Capitol Confidential blog post those tax increases were not tied as directly to the budget extender as first thought. Karlin wrote:

The cigarette tax was not included in the weekly appropriation bill — that means a vote against the tax hike was not really a vote to shut down government although some lawmakers seemed to think that.

WHAT?  And yet it passed.  Hmm.  I wonder why.  $$$$$?

Ahh, but we hear time and again that the legislation will help decrease smoking.  Here’s an idea: if smoking is so awful that it requires this much taxation to discourage its use… then just BAN it. While that would still be an intrusive government policy, and I would rail against it, at least it would be honest. Oh yeah, I forgot. Honesty was recently legislated out of existence in New York.

Realistically, that idea ain’t gonna happen. Tobacco tax is revenue to those 109 greedy legislators.  And our wonderful governor.

So what happens when that revenue dies down? Maybe the Legislature will mandate smoking.  These days, you never know.

I am declaring July 1st as “Thank a NY Smoker Day.” The poor addicted saps will be footing the bill, after all.

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  1. Dave

     /  June 22, 2010

    I do not smoke. So you can take that into account when you read my comments.

    I don’t pretend to understand the motivation of the NY legislature. I do believe that taxing smoking out of existence makes some sense. The cost to society greatly exceeds tax revenue. Lost productivity due to illness and medical costs impose on society in ways that justify such taxation.

    I have some sympathy for your libertarian leaning commentary. However, at times, the government needs to protect the general public from the selfish desires of a portion of the populace – in this case the smokers. I have little sympathy (more honestly stated NO SYMPATHY) for smokers.

    • I can appreciate your perspective on smoking. I don’t smoke either, and I find it to be a disgusting habit.

      There are two things that bother me about the taxation, the precedent it sets for future high taxation of behaviors and raising revenue on people who are addicted to nicotine. That differs from a taxation of something like soft drinks (still intrusive though), which is nowhere near as addictive.

      I’ve heard arguments made that smokers are less costly in the long run from a healthcare perspective because they tend to die earlier. I have not seen a study, though, to prove that. Your case for lost productivity bears some further examination. Still, I’m not convinced yet on the costs to society one way or the other.

      Finally, you bring up another good point on the libertarian comment. I don’t consider myself a libertarian, but this post fits into that mold. Where do I draw the line? I’m not sure yet. I do know that I don’t extend the same argument all the way to the illegal drug discussion.

      Thanks for the thought provoking comment.


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