Source: Science Codex
The American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network lobbying group is using the 40th anniversary of the Great American Smokeout to advocate for higher taxes on cigarettes, asking for a $2 per pack increase. Along with wealthy Democratic activist Tom Steyer, they have submitted an initiative to the State Attorney General’s office to increase the tobacco tax.
Oddly, they include e-cigarettes in their efforts, though those contain no tobacco and do not have the toxic chemicals in cigarettes. Studies from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health show that 90 percent of smokers start as teens. In California, 21,000 kids get hooked on smoking every year. If the interest is saving lives, and their estimates are that 441,000 children now under 18 and alive in California will ultimately die prematurely from smoking (the numbers don’t add up, since 21,000 per year to yield 441,000 would mean 100 percent of smokers under 18 will die from smoking, and they started at -3 years of age, thus anti-smoking activists are creating deaths from both second- and third-hand smoke) then smoking cessation and harm reduction techniques should be embraced, not taxed more heavily.
California’s current cigarette tax is 87 cents per pack and hasn’t been raised since 1998. By comparison, the New York City tax is $5.85, which has led to a black market industry in loose cigarettes and cigarettes shipped in illegally.
The use of tobacco products (which includes the tiny number of deaths related to smokeless tobacco, cigars and pipes, which are not inhaled) is linked to the deaths of more than 480,000 Americans annually and estimates of up to $289 billion in health care costs and lost productivity. States with comprehensive tobacco control programs experience faster declines in cigarette sales, smoking prevalence and lung cancer incidence and mortality than states that do not invest in these programs. But smoking rates are already in free-fall and some of the credit has to go to smoking cessation and harm reduction tools. The American Cancer Society uses the Great American Smokeout to raise millions of dollars and arguing that taxes are why smoking has declined seems to be self-serving rather than evidence-based. Billions of dollars in awareness campaigns, funded by tobacco companies, are the biggest reason for the decline.
There are many reasons to quit smoking and many ways to do it. If taxes were the magic bullet, it would be easy to just raise the taxes to $500 per pack and get rid of it entirely. Taxes are not the only answer, it is just a way to raise money money for government, which then makes government more reliant on an industry they claim they want to kill.