Instead, much of the money is being spent on other pork-barrel projects. It is time that the government realize that prohibition did not work in the 1920s and 1930s and it will not work any better in the 21st century. Since the smokers pay taxes already, making them pay for other health care costs is simply adding insult to injury by the chief drug pusher of all -- the federal government. It is the contention of this author that smokers should not pay for their own health care costs incurred from related-diseases.
"Smoke 'em if you got 'em, bum 'em if you don't" used to be the saying in the military prior to every smoke break. However, today, even the United States military is down on smoking. In this short essay, the author will illustrate how criminalizing the behavior of smokers will not cure them of the habit. It is the contention of this author that smokers should not pay for their own health care costs incurred from related-diseases. Rather than sympathizing with the addict (after all, nicotine is an addictive drug) and treating their addiction, the government taxes the smoker almost to death with taxes on the product and does not use all of the money to aid the smoker. It is tempting, but foolhardy to think that prohibition will work now when it would not with alcohol in the 1920s and 1930s. Many governments have since introduced smoking excise taxes upon cigarettes allegedly in order to reduce the consumption of cigarettes. In the opinion of this author, the motivation has much less to do with public health than making money and in promoting government power over individual rights in America today.
First Argument-Non-Smoking People Have an Equal Responsibility to Pay
Today, smoking seems to rank up with the worst offenses in civil society. Author Chris Auld makes a compelling argument and thus deals with two issues, the first about whether or not the non-smoker actually. He backs his research up with scholarly research in order to prove that this is not necessarily the case, specifically by providing the reader with the math in order to prove his point. Secondly, he deals with the philosophical issue of whether or not it is moral for the federal, state and local governments to make a product legal (and an addictive at that) and then to punish and vilify its users with special, discriminatory smoking excise taxes on that product. Based upon his study, there is simply no difference between the health costs coming from normal medical maladies and those that have been caused by the smoking habit (Auld, 2011).
Second Argument-Cigarette Smokers Already for Health Care Via Cigarette Taxes
The panacea for most funding crises that presently exist outside of lottery money is to go raid the smoking and other sin excise taxes. Like having only a hammer in the toolbox, most problems resemble the nail that needs pounding, once again subjecting smokers to vilification and punishment. Even research that is favorably disposed toward the subject of taxing smokers to pay for health related costs admit that the effects are only limited after a certain point. This is just the case as expressed in a European Commission report to the EU Council of Ministers and the European Parliament on tobacco tax policy in 2004 . While the paper issued by the Commission supported the beliefs that consumption of tobacco should be controlled by increases in tobacco excises, but it also noted that there are conceptual and/or empirical limits to high tobacco taxes. According to the report, smokers appear to pay their way. Additionally, cigarette smuggling is a huge and growing problem in the European Union where cigarette taxes are so high.
This has been seconded by other European research. In a study by the Bonn based Institute for the study by Jerome Adda and Francesca Cornaglia, they concluded that by focusing upon the intensity of the smoking experience itself that they would then be able to accomplish much more in the way of definitive research. They defined smoking as the ratio of nicotine concentration to the total number of cigarettes smoked. This is a very broad definition of what smoking is that encompasses many compensating behaviors. They therefore were much better able to analyze how smokers altered their behavior in response to changes in state level smoking excise taxes. Using the variation in smoking excise taxes between states and over time, they were able to show that smokers
Third Supporting Section -- the Charging of Risk Behaviors Will Not Stop With Smoking
In a journal article by Hugh V McLachlan As McLachlan argues persuasively:
More attractive or, at least, less unattractive would be the principle that: the health care costs of them) should be paid by those who voluntarily run the risk of suffering from any knowably avoidable illness or conditions and breathe ... Or ride in motor cars and/or are pedestrians ... Or eat ... Or have sex ... (McLachlan, 1995, 213).
In other words, as McLachlan argues, if the smoker argument is extended to its logical (or illogical as it will) extreme, the there is no end to the identification of at risk behaviors for identification and fiscal punishment. Logically, the argument is discriminatory and long-term will not work as tax hungry governments try to find a population to feed off of monetarily (ibid.). The approach is in essence parasitic and flies in the face of American values. It is more than likely that the witch hunt will not end with smokers, but will continue on to the obese and other addictive behaviors. This is a government power grab and it must not be allowed to continue.
One of the many reasons that many public health officials support cigarette excise tax increases is that many studies claim that this leads to significant and measurable decreases in smoking rates. The direct relationship between smoking rates and cigarette excise taxes is in fact very much elastic. The greater the amount of the smoking excise tax increase (it is claimed), the greater the proportion of smokers who will stop smoking. This is the most prevalent among the teenage population. For every 10% increase in the purchase price of a pack of cigarettes, the youth smoking rates overall dropped about 7% (Peterson et. Al, 1992, 1-2).
This rate is also true among minorities and the low income population smokers. Many of the states can testify to such statistics because the rates of calls to the quitting hot-lines were directly related to cigarette excise tax hikes. When the state of Wisconsin raised its state cigarette excise tax to $1.00 per pack, the hot-line took in a record 20,000 calls in a two-month time period. This was vs. The typical approximate 9,000 calls annually. Some of the critics point out an overall anti-tobacco sentiment as the main reason for a decrease in the smoking rates. However, an objective analysis of smoking and cigarette excise tax rates in 1955 through 1964 written prior to the Surgeon General's first report (and general anti-smoking sentiments) demonstrate the same relationship between smoking excise tax increases and the declining smoking rates that are prevalent to this day (ibid.).
The estimate of smoking related health care costs dates back to the class action lawsuits in the late 1990s. These estimates were largely based upon the figures that went back two decades that were developed by analysts working for the states that comprising estimates of state-specific costs for use at trial or in settlement discussions. The medical costs of smoking in the United States equal and may also well exceed the most commonly referenced figure of 6 -- 8% of the general population in the country at large (Warner, Hodgson & Carroll, 1999, 290-291).
Additionally, there is a study that claims that it has been shown that the increases in cigarette taxes actually reduce smoking rates among the U.S. population of pregnant women. In the study in the American Journal of Public Health, a cigarette tax hike of some $0.55 per pack would definitively reduce the phenomenon of maternal smoking by some twenty-two percent. Overall, a ten percent increase in cigarette prices would reduce smoking rates by some seven percent. Estimates for the studied subpopulations suggested that almost nearly all of the smokers would be very responsive to tax changes. The study found that this included the subpopulations with the highest smoking rates as well. It was shown in the article that smoking rates among pregnant women are responsive to tax hikes (Ringel, & Evans, 2001, 1855).
Smokers are paying far more for their habit these days than just the ten dollar pack of cigarettes stuffed in their coat pocket. Companies are pumping up their health insurance premiums for workers who smoke at record rates, a trend that isn't entirely new to the U.S., but is nonetheless sparking the heated debates over whether or not employers should be able to have influence over their employee's health.
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