Friday, February 10, 2006

The Smoking Class

$7.59 a pack starting March first. That's putting the burden on the backs of the smoking class.

By a 10-7 vote, Cook County Board members voted Thursday to double the county tax on a pack of cigarettes from $1 to $2.
Whacking addicts with a punitive tax seems awfully wrong.


Cal Skinner 6:37 AM  

When will we have the first cigarette smuggling story? I can't even remember the decade I was told the profit on smuggling a 16 wheeler from Kentucky was $100,000. It is certainly hundreds of thousands of dollars now.

Skeeter 8:47 AM  

What we really need is a tort system that allows people to sue for exposure to second hand smoke. Your smoke causes me discomfort? Pay up.

grand old partisan 9:10 AM  

skeeter, that's an interesting point - for another debate. The high tax on cigarettes has nothing to do with exposure to second hand smoke. It has everything to do with the leaders of a bloated bureaucracy trying to fill in their budget gaps with an altogether unfair, not to mention poorly thought-out, plan.

Bill mentioned the idea of “class”…..but the important thing to remember here is that the vast majority of smokers come from the “working class” or “middle class.” And the rate of smokers is higher among African Americans than among whites. Talk about Bush’s “tax cuts for the rich” all you want, but it is liberal Democrats like Stroger that are imposing tax increases on a largely poor and black ‘class’ of citizens. What’s up with that?

And it doesn’t take a genius to understand the concept of “diminished returns.” The revenue increases that Stroger cites ($70 mil, I believe?) are based on a scenario in which everyone who currently buys cigarettes in the city continues to do so at the same rate in the future……in other words, he’s assuming that there will be no decrease in cigarette sales as a result of this tax. Now, does that seem like a smart thing to assume when you consider the relative convenience of Indiana, Will & Dupage Counties, not to mention the internet tobacco sales. (Incidentally, people who will drive to other jurisdictions to buy tobacco will most likely purchase other products – gas, liquor, groceries – during those trips that they otherwise would have bought in Cook County…..thus reducing the amount of other taxes, not to mention revenue for the County’s small businesses).

I’ve always thought that – whatever his other failings – Stroger was at least a relatively intelligent person. Why does he not understand that increasing the County’s financial dependence on taxing a habit that continues to decrease among the population year, after year, after year is just plain stupid?

Skeeter 12:41 PM  

In response to GOP:

You may be right about the impact on government financing and the disproportionate impact on the working class.

Of cours, I am in favor of anything that makes it more difficult for people around me to have access to cigarettes. If people have to drive to Will County to get them, that is fine by me. Hopefully they will smoke there and not here.

Moreover, "Whacking addicts with a punitive tax" sure beats "Tossing addicts without money into jail" as is done with other drugs.

grand old partisan 12:58 PM  


If want to make it more difficult for people around you to have access to cigarettes, that’s fine. Lobby for bans and prohibitions. But even the most ardent anti-smoking advocate needs realize that the tax code should be a weapon in their fight…..unless they don’t care that when everyone does finally stop smoking, the county is going to be broke.

Your contrast of nicotine with illegal narcotics is not without merit. I do have a libertarian streak in me that accept that logic. Sure, the difference between legal and illegal drugs is simply a matter of degree…..but there is a difference. But, again, that is a different debate altogether.

Bill Baar 1:13 PM  

Skeeter... not jail but homeless shelters. I volunteer at one as a night supervisor... I don't know how they swing it even with Kane County's taxes.

Larry Horse 1:46 PM  

I'd support a cigarette tax any day over a property tax increase.

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