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I am highly agitated. I am, however, a social outcast, so it hardly matters. On the other hand, while the social outcast is shunned and punished for our faults, it turns out we are a valuable asset to those in need. And in this particular case, that just happens to be the state of Connecticut with their one billion dollar budget deficit.
What am I talking about and why should I even care about Connecticut while living in North Carolina? I care because I am a smoker, and the smokers in Connecticut are the social outcasts who had the price of their habit go up by $0.62 a pack in addition to the $0.50 tax already in place. Total tax: $1.11, third highest in the country behind only Washington at $1.42 and New York at $1.50 (effective April first).
Connecticutís cigarette tax is expected to raise 130 million dollars per year. How hard are they going to try to prevent cigarette smoking in teenagers now do you think? Not to hard it appears. Some senators tried to get an additional $0.04 added on to the tax to fund smoking prevention programs for teens and it was turned down. Why would they fund smoking prevention? It would reduce the amount of taxes they collect.
I realize our smoking habit is disgusting. It irritates non-smokers. It ruins our health, no one is going to tell me anything about smoking I donít already know. It is also addictive, just like many other drugs. We have to stand out side to smoke. Almost all public buildings are off limits for smoking. We are looked down at by society for being weak and lacking the fortitude to quit. Social outcasts.
So who do you look to when you need to raise a little petty cash in the state coffers? They know damn well that very few smokers will quit smoking because of the tax. It is an addiction, and that is what makes us such easy targets.
If the tax was used strictly to help cover health care costs that a state incurs due to providing health care for smokers, then I can agree with it. But that is not the case. Iím not privy to how Connecticut is spending their tax dollars, but I can guarantee you the entire 130 million in additional taxes they collect will not be used for smoking related programs. Probably a very small portion will benefit smokers in any way.
As far as I am concerned taxes are not implemented properly anyway. And to tax one segment of society is just plain unfair, particularly so when that segment is addicted to a drug in the product being taxed.
What gets me is that the tax increase is also touted as helping smokers. They figure that 4% of smokers quit for each 10% increase in the price of cigarettes. Thatís nice. Itís nice for the 4% who managed to quit smoking. The 96% that are left are paying the extra $0.024 added on the tax to cover the loss of revenue from the 4% of smokers who will quit! Donít think for one minute that that was not a consideration when they came up with the $0.61 figure.
I donít know where as any tax could be called fair, but it seems to me if there is a budget shortfall, the extra tax burden should be spread more evenly across the tax base. If the course you choose is to tax individual segments, then why not raise taxes for alcohol as well? And what about luxury items that the rich are addicted to? And Pepsi and Coke that children are addicted to? And Burger King And McDonalds that the entire planet is addicted to?
Or, if you want to be more realistic, how about raising the gas tax? That would encompass almost all segments of the population. You would have to somehow compensate those who make a living from driving, such as cab companies and truck drivers, but you would be taxing a much more diverse section of users that way.
I am not defending smoking. I know it is stupid. But smokers have rights. And their rights are being taken advantage of, or rather their addiction is. What do you think would happen if you raised the property taxes of all the millionaires by 5%? Wow! Thereís an idea! Raise the taxes of someone who could actually afford to pay them! I can hear it now. Why should we pay more in taxes just because we make more money? My point exactly. Why should smokers pay more in taxes just because we smoke?
Smokers are treated as social outcasts or second class citizens as it is. Itís to bad that after being labeled as such, the first class citizens call on them to supplement the programs and assistance they desire, and are at risk of loosing, at no cost to themselves.