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Whew! I definitely decided to quit smoking at just the right time. At the beginning of this month, the federal government decided to make the largest federal tax increase ever on cigarettes. The massive hike of 61.6 cents per pack now brings the total tax on a pack of cigarettes to just over $1 per pack.

Why more taxes?
The tobacco tax increase, signed into law by President Obama in February, will be used to finance an expansion of the State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP). The SCHIP covers those children of parents who earn too much to qualify for Medicaid but cannot afford private health insurance. Expanding the SCHIP will cost the federal government $35 million dollars over five years and will secure federally funded healthcare for an additional 4 million children. With the added funds, the program will be able to cover over 11 million children.


Feeling Abused
Several people interviewed CNN felt they were being unfairly targeted and the government is picking on smokers. One 83 year old woman states she has smoked for over 65 years says she has no intentions to quit and is upset at the government for raising the taxes. Another gentleman feels that the government is "picking on the poor people, the one's that smoke". He has smoked for over 50 years and has no intentions to quit.

My Thoughts
As a former smoker, I think the tax increase is great. A price increase may be the driving factor for some people to quit. Even if I were a current smoker, I wouldn't complain about the increase. After all, you are doing something that is known and proven to cause health problems. I wouldn't want to my health insurance costs to increase to pay for the medical care of someone that knew the risks of smoking and chose to do so anyway.

What are your thoughts?


10 comments

  1. Yana // April 13, 2009 at 11:37 AM  

    "...you are doing something that is known and proven to cause health problems"

    Being alive is known and proven to cause health problems. Smokers and non-smokers get sick and die. The two people you mentioned that were interviewed who were in their eighties have proven something about smoking.

    This tax is not meant to make smokers quit. That would defeat its purpose of exploiting smokers. The tobacco companies fear that smokers will quit, and are going to push alternatives to smokers who believe that smoking is a *drug* addiction. I highly advise smokers not to train themselves to use the alternatives. They are not addicted to them NOW. Instead of rolling over and taking something like this, smokers should stand up and force the tobacco companies to help end this exploitation. After all, we know they are not going to go out of business and their stocks always have been very profitable. Quit smoking if you want to, but do not buy the alternatives and create a new addiction.

  2. Jenn // April 13, 2009 at 12:41 PM  

    Congratulations on quitting!

    The US still pays much MUCH less for a pack of smokes than Canadians do.

    The gentleman that feels that they are "picking on the poor people"? Why is it that the people that can least afford to smoke purchase them and keep this industry going?

    I support the tax increase. If you're going to willingly partake in something that will (not might here, WILL) shorten your lifespan and those around you, then you should be made to pay for it.

    In fact, they should increase them MORE. If it doesn't drive people to quit, it'll fund some much needed programs to bring awareness about the dangers of cigarettes, and potentially lower the cost of the tools that people can use to quit.

    Even if you DO become addicted to nicotine gum - it's better than inhaling all of the carcinogenic chemicals contained in the cigarette.

  3. Chris // April 13, 2009 at 3:59 PM  

    Congratulations on quitting. I remember a biology professor saying to me once, "you are right, anyone can quit smoking, it takes a real man to face cancer..." and face it I have after watching a proud and strong man whither away from the ravages of lung cancer.

    As for what it is funding, they are essentially funding a program with an ever shrinking tax revenue. As for picking on the poor, the poor are more often to not have health insurance, so in this case, they are just pre-funding their healthcare obligations that I will be paying for.

    As far as a sin tax, not a big fan of it, but does anyone find it telling that we haven't raised taxes on alcohal in i dont know how many years? Guess they have better lobbyists.

  4. Blake // April 14, 2009 at 9:35 AM  

    I agree with you on this one. Smoking is a vice; it's not necessary in the slightest. Might as well tax the people who completely disregard their health and their wallets already.

    Instead of using so much energy to raise hell, maybe the ticked-off smokers should use the anger to motivate them to quit. Then they actually would be sticking it to the government.

  5. Chelle // April 14, 2009 at 11:10 PM  

    If they're going to tax cigarettes they should tax other things that are bad for us too like alcohol (every 30 min someone is killed by a drunk driver) and junk food (over 58 million people are estimated to be overweight). On that note, why not legalize illegal drugs and tax the heck out of them too?

    I don't usually feel so opinionated about things, but this is one of those issues that strikes a nerve with me. :) It's not fair for smokers to constantly be singled out and penalized when there's plenty of other things non-smokers do that can harm their own and other's personal health.

  6. Blake // April 15, 2009 at 8:37 AM  

    "If they're going to tax cigarettes they should tax other things that are bad for us too like alcohol (every 30 min someone is killed by a drunk driver) and junk food (over 58 million people are estimated to be overweight)."

    If I'm not mistaken, there are some 'fat taxes' being implemented in some places?

  7. Anonymous // April 16, 2009 at 12:50 PM  

    I don't even mind the tax increase so much as I mind the fact that the retailers are now taking advantage of the situation and price gouging. Marlboro Cigarettes went from $3.60 a pack in my neck of the woods (Los Angeles) to anywhere from $4.59 to as high as $11.50. How is it that this is being tolerated?

  8. MoneyEnergy // April 18, 2009 at 12:11 AM  

    Yana's comment makes no sense. Smoke is SO bad for everyone involved it's like continuing to have asbesots in your walls or leaky nuclear waste not treated properly. Its unfortunate that these people are addicted to smoking, but there you have it. The mere fact that secondhand smoke kills people who were never smokers, this just burns me. It's just inexcusable. I see folks smoking outside the doors at the hospital even when it says no smoking within 10 feet. I'm really sick of it! Nothing personal, but I want to live smoke free and second-hand smoke violates that possibility. I don't know the real "reason" for the tax, but arguments based on it being unfair to smokers don't hold up. Income tax of all kinds is "unfair" in the same way to everyone anyway. Smoking is problematic for reasons that come well prior to its being taxed.

    Btw, I was a smoker for three years a long time ago and so glad I quit. It was hard enough then, too, after only having smoked for three years.

    And it's also why I don't invest in anything - especially diverisified mutual funds - related to the tobacco industry. It's just bad for everyone.

  9. Rebecca Rodgers // April 20, 2009 at 1:06 AM  

    I say yeah-we both picked a fine time to quit!

  10. Anonymous // April 23, 2009 at 10:34 AM  

    I quit smoking a month ago after smoking a pack a day for 25 years. I finally quit for two reasons: My kids wanted me to, and the price per pack was going up to $5.90. I just couldn't justify spending that money every day, especially in this economic climate. My savings so far? $180.

    Total cigarettes not smoked? Over 600. I don't know if I really feel one way or the other on the issue of unfairly high taxation on cigarettes, I see both sides of the issue. But for me, realizing that I was spending that much money on a product that would probably kill me eventually - well, it was just time.