Monday, January 16

Anthem of a smoker

Fascism to the underdog.
Let me use the particular angle of a smoker. NY state wants to increase the cigarette tax by an other dollar, bringing it up to a total revenue of $2.50 which will bring up retail price in NYC to over $8 per pack. In which coffers does this money disappear?
When I arrived in the US 18 years ago the price for a pack of cigarettes was around $1.50!
Before I came to the United States I happened to live for five years in Scandinavia (Norway). Cigarette prices were exuberant there as well even then. But what did that state do? They provided universal health care to every living soul on their territory, including medicine, drugs, elderly care - you name it...
But here in the US you get nothing in return except vague promises that the money will benefit "something".
The six fold increase in price since I've been here did not decrease six fold the numbers of smokers, right? So increasing the tax on tobacco merely increases revenue for the state which might be OK if they use it to help people. But that is not what is happening! Instead the state syphons off this "poor mans tax" and spend it on god knows what...
In the mean time the yuppies in their boxy SUV's stay content to go to a smoke free bar these days, but beware - if they ever were to pay appropriate taxes on their deadly vehicles, who spit out 40 cigarets worth of carbon monoxide a second, a yuppie revolution would be around the corner, or maybe not...

Bottom line. It is easy for a politician to endorse legislation that paints a wonderful picture of success to his or her constituency by changing the laws that will affect the underdog who could but will not oppose, and by this gaining points climbing up the political ladder even higher. It is much harder indeed to invigorate REAL CHANGE, like for example that the US would accept some kind of protocol on emissions (Kyoto), tax SUV's equally and have same emission standards for them as automobiles, insist on tougher regulations for mid-western coal burning plants, invigorate public transportation... and so on; and thereafter start to worry about "emissions" from smokers.
Perhaps this way additional millions of lives can be saved right now and many more to come in the future.

In the mean time - buy your smokes from your indian reservation, and light (lighten) up.

P.S. And if you wish: STOP SMOKING - but not because your tax man says so... only because you can do it for yourself, and for the ones around you !!!


Gary said...

Good post Zee.

I am pleased to have so many smoke-free places because it's simply nicer for me (and probably healthier), but I am a little sick of the Nicotine Nazis who righteously preach and torment smokers... while ignoring all sorts of other things (like SUVs as you note).

I don't smoke tobacco myself - well, a Cuban cigar now and then.

Zee said...

Don't get me wrong, I like smoke free places as well! A Chateaux briant, a perfect Sushi dinner or some awesome Indian vegetarian cuisine would be massacred by an abundance of smoke.

All I ask for are separate spaces where people may come and have a drink afterwards without being hassled when they light up by stepping over the border what has now become instituted law, no matter how well the premises are vented, or shielded from those who wish not to participate.

I am being vicious now, but the rigorous approach of hammering down with non-smoking rules on the little guy reminds me of a test sequence that only fascists could come up with, namely: How far can we go to intimidate the ants so we can be sure they work for us - always!

Sure, we have to address the health issues of smoking, I'm all for that. But the above approach seems contra-productive, sort of like invading Afghanistan, Iraq, and soon Iran in an attempt to create democracy in the Middle East.

The root is the "evil" - not the plant!

Elizabeth Green said...

I am all for increasing the taxes on SUVs. [I have a Taurus] Being in the somewhat lucrative profession of pharmacy, I go work every day and park in a parking lot filled with Cadillac Escalades, Jeep Cherokees, Toyota Forerunners and now, some arse has gotten a Hummer. To me, the Hummer should be illegal, or you should have to pay a nuisance tax for wasting gas & driving up the price of insurance.

What happened to the good old days when pharmacists drove Mercedes, BMWs, and Jags?

Zee, you have a good point about invading to impose democracy. That's not what the founding fathers had in mind. People have a right to self-determination, even if they don't choose democracy.