Smoking is Bad, Taxes are Still Worse

"If I had a nickel" for every time I tried to quit...
BY A. C. LAIRD | lairdslair


I, unfortunately, still find myself among the millions of Americans, who smoke cigarettes. Yes, it's a very bad habit to pick up. And, an even harder one to quit. "If I had a nickel" for every time I tried to quit, or even thought about quitting, well, you know the answer to that hypothetical question.
Many who read this will surely agree with my thoughts and good intentions. However, smoking is an addiction. It is not a far cry from any other type of addiction. Drugs and alcohol are not far behind. That's right, I said drugs and alcohol aren't far behind.

The honest truth about cigarettes is that they are far more addictive to the "average" person than any other "illegal or illicit" drug on the streets today. Why, may you ask? Here's the answer: the federal and state governments make millions, if not billions, of dollars from taxes on tobacco products every year and they make these products readily available for virtually anyone to purchase. That, my friends, is the sole reason that smoking hasn't been "banned" in this country altogether.

SmokesThink about it. If the United States of America completely banned smoking, making it illegal, just think of all the money our country would lose in tax revenue. Do you think Congress would really allow a "prohibition of smoking" to happen? I'm guessing no. Mainly because Congress will probably need to "vote" themselves into a raise after the spring session is over and then, they are all off for the summer...just like school children. Well, they have to pay for those yachts and beach-houses somehow, you know? The prohibition of alcohol didn't work in the 1920s (for very long) for three very good reasons: (1) there was a demand for the product, (2) people were willing to pay money for it, and (3) the US government was able to regulate sales and could profit from it as well, in tax revenue. The same holds true today, as far as cigarettes are concerned. Well, in a way....sort of.

In the state of Ohio, it is illegal to smoke a cigarette in a public or private establishment. Whether it be a restaurant, bar, or club. Luckily, I happen to be in the privacy of my own home as I write this. Otherwise, I might be facing a $100, $500, or maybe even a $1,000 fine for partaking in perhaps, one of my last civil rights as a citizen of this great country. That is, until they outlaw smoking in your own home as well. I'm sure that many of our local restaurants and bars have felt a definitive impact on their sales due to the smoking ban. I don't really go "out" much these days but I know for certain that, in some cases, a few of our local business' revenues half been cut nearly in half. Yes, half. In case you didn't know, half of "what you used to make," is a LOT. How some of these places stay in business is a mystery to me.

And now, four days ago (as of this writing), the state of Ohio has deemed a tax raise on tobacco products sold "within" it's borders. This tax raise amounts to 70 cents per pack of cigarettes bought within the state of Ohio. So, basically it comes downs to this; you cannot smoke in any public or private establishment in the state of Ohio without the possibility of facing a (up to) $1000 fine but, we (state of Ohio) are going to charge you an extra 70 cents a pack to give you the "opportunity" to keep your rights as a citizen, and a smoker, as long as you smoke in your own home. Now, I am certainly not writing this to "defend" smoking. I would love to quit and, by July (my 40th birthday), I sincerely plan on doing so. I am writing this to defend and uphold all of our rights as Americans. Smokers do not deserve special treatment, But, neither do non-smokers.

It is our right to do as we please. Cigarettes ARE NOT illegal and smokers should NOT be treated as criminals. Perhaps the Federal government should just do everyone a favor and simply outlaw tobacco once and for all. I know they want to. Besides, it would make all the non-smokers happy and I could probably get a pack of my favorite brand down on the corner without paying the tax. But, America wouldn't like losing that money, would they?

Originally Published in The Marion Star, March 13, 2009
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