Saturday, July 11, 2009

The Cigarette Tax and You!

Recently, Obama had signed tobacco legislation, which had raised the federal cigarette tax by 62 cents a pack, while other tobacco products saw a steep increase as well. On the conservative news networks, their commentators had stated that Obama had reneged on his promise not to raise taxes on the poor and middle class. Their logic was that the new federal tax disproportionately affects the poor smokers, equating to a tax hike.

I suppose the Bush tax cuts on the rich could be considered a raise in taxes against the poor because they reduce the amount of taxes the wealthy pay, while not affecting those of lower classes. You could also argue that all sales taxes may disproportionately affect the poor because a tax may disporportionately affect lower income families because the tax is a greater percentage of their disposable income.

If you take into consideration the medical costs associated with smoking, as well as the percentage of lower income families that lack insurance, then it would seem apparent that the benefits of such a tax would outweigh the consequences of smoking. An estimated 440,000 Americans die of smoking related illnesses each year, with 20 percent of Americans smoking, and chronic illnesses such as emphysema not only take a toll on the patient and the medical system, but also the family. While studies have shown that the percentage of smokers decreases with the increase of income, calling a federal tax on cigarettes a raise in taxes for the poor is highly innaccurate.

If the tax does disproportionately affect lower income people who choose to smoke, then those same people can choose not to smoke, saving them money (both short term and long term results), so maybe they can raise a couple tax brackets and join their rich smoker friends who are not affected by such a liberal evil.

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