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Question of the day

Monday, Apr 30, 2012

* Illinois Review pointed to this 2008 Gallup poll today which surveyed over 75,000 American adults and found that personal income has a pretty direct correlation to smoking propensity

Nationwide, the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index reveals that 21% of Americans say they smoke. As the accompanying graph illustrates, the likelihood of smoking generally increases as annual incomes decrease. One exception to this pattern occurs among those making less than $6,000 per year, an income bracket often skewed because many in that bracket are students. Among those making $6,000 to $11,999 per year, 34% say they smoke, while only 13% in the top two income brackets (those with incomes of at least $90,000 per year) say the same — a 21 percentage-point gap.

The Well-Being Index also confirms distinctions in U.S. smoking rates relating to gender and race. Among respondents, 23% of men and 19% of women say they smoke. Blacks are the most likely to smoke (23%) and Asians are least likely to smoke (12%). Hispanics and whites fall in between, at 17% and 20%, respectively.

* The chart

* The Question: Is it fair to increase the state cigarette tax by a dollar a pack to help fund Medicaid costs when such high percentages of poor people will be impacted? Take the poll and then explain your answer in comments, please.


- Posted by Rich Miller        


71 Comments
  1. - so.... - Monday, Apr 30, 12 @ 11:30 am:

    Well, it’s poor people who use Medicaid, so it makes a certain kind of sense that they help defray its costs.


  2. - Skeeter - Monday, Apr 30, 12 @ 11:35 am:

    Absolutely. In fact, it is a great solution.

    A tax increase of that amount is going to impact people most likely to smoke and if the increase is enough, will actually cause them not smoke.
    If fewer people smoke, Medicaid bills go down.

    It seems like a targeted solution that either raises revenue to pay for Medicaid or decreases the payouts by Medicaid.


  3. - Ahoy - Monday, Apr 30, 12 @ 11:35 am:

    i’m not sure if it’s the right thing to do, but I think it’s fair for two reasons.

    1. It acts as a stick to help people stop smoking and smoking most likly adds to the cost of Medicaid.

    2. The commentor above already noted, it is poor people who is Medicaid.


  4. - Anonymous - Monday, Apr 30, 12 @ 11:36 am:

    I said yes, but for almost the opposite of the reason of “so”. Taxing cigarettes will reduce consumption, especially among low income persons. That will keep them healthier, reducing Medicaid costs. A “win-win”. (Although, keep in mind that Medicaid doesn’t cover most poor people - only kids, pregnant moms, disabled people and some parents. Hopefully, most of those folks are NOT smoking.) However, if it weren’t for the fact that the tax will itself encourage healthy behavior, I would say no.


  5. - too obvious - Monday, Apr 30, 12 @ 11:38 am:

    It’s a tax on cool people. Of course IR would be opposed.


  6. - dave - Monday, Apr 30, 12 @ 11:40 am:

    Illinois Review now cares about regressive taxation? That’s funny…


  7. - 47th Ward - Monday, Apr 30, 12 @ 11:45 am:

    I voted yes, because the practical effect of high tobacco taxes is fewer smokers.

    I think a study that compared smoking with level of education would show that the less educated are more likely to be smokers. I also think if you compared income with education levels, the chart would show more education = higher income. So smokers are more likely to be poor and undereducated.

    Because they smoke, and are poor, they are more likely to rely on Medicaid when they eventually get sick. But if we do a better job of educating Illinoisans, we’ll see a drop in smoking too. In the meantime, higher tobacco taxes will result in fewer smokers. It’s a two-fer.

    For those who say raising tobacco taxes will result in less revenue as consumers buy online or out of state, I’d respond with the argument that revenue is beside the point. There are Medicaid and other health care benefits from reduced smoking that have nothing to do with the amount of taxes collected.


  8. - Robert - Monday, Apr 30, 12 @ 11:45 am:

    Yes, fair, and it may cause some to quit somking. Also, given state’s budget problems, only “somewhat fair” is fine by me.


  9. - Irish - Monday, Apr 30, 12 @ 11:47 am:

    So why is it that all high end hotels, spas etc. have cigar bars? And why is it everytime you see the super elite on the golf course or relaxing with a 30 year old brandy they have a big stogey in their hand? Are we sure those folks didn’t misunderstand the question and thought that “smoking” meant buying your enjoyment legally through normal channels?


  10. - Cincinnatus - Monday, Apr 30, 12 @ 11:47 am:

    I think I read that each $1 increase in smoke prices causes a 10% decrease in smokers. Given that, how will the decrease in revenue stream caused by less smokers paying the tax be supplemented in the following year after the tax is implemented.

    The tax is not only regressive, it does not provide a steady, predictable revenue stream for Medicaid funding. Bad idea all around.


  11. - Anonymous - Monday, Apr 30, 12 @ 11:51 am:

    I voted yes. Smoking is not a required activity for rich or poor. The poor and the rich and those in between can all make the choice to smoke or not. A person’s economic status does not excuse him or her from making a deliberately damaging choice with their health. One activity that helps keep a person poor is spending money in a decidedly optional and unbeneficial manner.


  12. - BMAN - Monday, Apr 30, 12 @ 11:54 am:

    Yes smokers should pay the tax as a prepayment for their future costs to health systems that ultimately will have to pay because those smokers will be on disability and a drain to society.

    The only drawback to taxing cigarettes is that the law of diminishing returns should kick sometime.


  13. - LIberty_first - Monday, Apr 30, 12 @ 11:59 am:

    This is a luxury tax not a regressive tax.


  14. - Cook County Commoner - Monday, Apr 30, 12 @ 12:00 pm:

    No. It’s totally unfair. On the one hand, government allows a dangerously addictive product to be purchased, and, after it gets folks hooked, it boosts the price with taxes. Sound like the kind of thing a heroin dealer would do. And this strategy impacts the poor more than anyone because they lack the resources to access smoking cessation products and counseling.


  15. - cermak_rd - Monday, Apr 30, 12 @ 12:01 pm:

    I voted it’s fair because everyone, rich or poor, has a choice on whether or not to smoke. Also, if increasing the cost of a pack of smokes causes folks to quit then I see that as a winner.


  16. - Name Withheld - Monday, Apr 30, 12 @ 12:05 pm:

    I have mixed feelings on this. You’re taking money from people who have an addiction to nicotine and have a higher propensity for being on the lower end of the income curve. But I also agree that its reasonable for smokers to help defray the medical costs associated with their ‘addiction.’

    If there’s going to be a tax increase for cigarettes - then make it substantial - say $10 or $20. This nickel-and-dime stuff does nothing to discourage smokers. Plus medical costs are only going to rise as time goes by.

    Yes, that will mean the only people who can afford to smoke will be wealthier people. I have no problem with that. They are the ones who tend to already have good health care - so let them be the ones to pay for dealing with cancer.


  17. - Trstmay - Monday, Apr 30, 12 @ 12:10 pm:

    Yes. Maybe they will quit and live longer.


  18. - John Galt - Monday, Apr 30, 12 @ 12:12 pm:

    Mixed feelings as well. I’m a conservative so it really creeps me out that the government controls so much of our lives, including what we choose to do with our smoking, drinking & dietary choices. Talk about an arrogant & paternalistic society we live in….

    On the other hand, he who pays the piper names the tune. That’s the thing I hate about government “goodies” in the first place, including tax payer funded health care. There are always strings attached, but if there weren’t then we’d have a completely out of control budget even more that we do now.

    So that being said, if somebody should bear the cost of Medicaid, it ought to be smokers–especially so if they are the ones who disproportionately depend on Medicaid. One of two things will happen: either poorer smokers won’t quit, and therefore Medicaid will see a revenue bump. Or lower ends smokers will quit & so new revenue won’t come in–but hopefully the Medicaid demands would be lower too.

    Unless the third option happens: at some point a black market would emerge where the underworld takes on illegal tobacco sales for people looking for a fix without the taxes.

    Finally, it’s just a bizarre thing when we impliment “sin taxes.” We want the sin to go away so we tax it (BTW we all understand this w/ tobacco & alcohol—why do some people deny this happens when we then tax businesses? Blows me away but I digress). But we also want the revenue from the sin tax so we don’t want the sin to go away entirely.

    Just a bizarre way to structure things.


  19. - Old geezer and caregiver - Monday, Apr 30, 12 @ 12:16 pm:

    Makes about as much sense as additional tax for anyone that drives a Cadillac or a Mercedes. They also have a choice. All it’s going to do is drive smokers to other states to buy, leading to unemployment at convenience stores and gas stations (not to mention the loss of sales and gas tax)


  20. - Sunshine - Monday, Apr 30, 12 @ 12:18 pm:

    I think it is a fair tax, if it is applied toward Medicare.

    Smoking is terribly difficult to stop. Use a portion of the increase to fund free stop smoking clinics as well.


  21. - Steve Bartin - Monday, Apr 30, 12 @ 12:23 pm:

    No. How much higher can cigarette taxes go in Illinois? There’s no guarantee a higher tax (at this level) will bring in more revenue. Why shouldn’t a smoker buy cigarettes in Indiana or Wisconsin? Just a reminder: Cook County isn’t bringer in more cigarette tax revenue than 5 years ago.


  22. - downstate hack - Monday, Apr 30, 12 @ 12:23 pm:

    I voted yes in that it is not nearly a regressive tax as the lotttery. However as a better alternative for State revenue, we should allow slots at horse tracks and expand casino gaming as a better revenue source with at least some added economic gowth in jobs.


  23. - Cassiopeia - Monday, Apr 30, 12 @ 12:24 pm:

    I voted yes and it bothers me. I think it indicates that I am definitely drifting away from my Democratic roots. I don’t know if its because of aging or compassion fatigue.


  24. - tomhail - Monday, Apr 30, 12 @ 12:32 pm:

    Yes it’s fair. Many people will give it up, which makes it a win-win.


  25. - Kathy Drea - Monday, Apr 30, 12 @ 12:36 pm:

    Illinois cigarette tax is rated 32nd in nation now. There are many states at $2/pack or close to that and a few that are significantly higher than that. Since the last Illinois cig tax increase ten years ago there have been 92 statewide cig tax increases across the nation - so several states increased their tax multiple times. All of those 92 increases brought in new additional revenue.
    The Illinois Tobacco Quitline is FREE to any Illinois resident. 1-866-QUIT-YES (1-866-784-8937) Funding is from the Master Tobacco Settlement Recovery Fund (not taxpayer funded).


  26. - Chevy owner/Ford County - Monday, Apr 30, 12 @ 12:36 pm:

    It is absolutely a fair tax. Taxes on cigarettes are an elective tax. You, quite literally, can choose to pay them or not. The fact that lower income people are choosing to pay these taxes is unfortunate, but no one is forcing them to engage in the chosen activity of smoking.


  27. - vole - Monday, Apr 30, 12 @ 12:43 pm:

    No. Same as the state depending on lotto sales for revenues. A progressive income tax would be a much better and reliable source of revenue. But forbid that the governor would reach for the higher hanging fruit that might topple his ladder.


  28. - John Galt - Monday, Apr 30, 12 @ 12:44 pm:

    Chevy owner/Ford County has a good point too. I typically hate additional revenue, since our spending simply grows to keep pace with it rather than allowing that revenue to responsibly clean up our books. That being said, there is a revenue hierarchy even for anti-tax conservatives:

    The worst is confiscatory income taxes where you have no choice. Next is sales taxes where you can at least choose to purchase the product elsewhere or purchase the product not at all (luxury items, “sin taxes” and the like). Finally is user fees for licenses, etc.


  29. - Plutocrat03 - Monday, Apr 30, 12 @ 12:44 pm:

    More social engineering.

    The more likely result is that smokers will change the way they get their cigarettes. Whether it is vial making their own smokes, legal sales in lower tax neighboring states, or increasing the illegal cigarette trade.

    End result is less tax money collected.

    It’s just a nanny state mentality.

    What’s next a tax for not exercising every day? Perhaps a tax on bad grammar.


  30. - Mark Peysakhovich - Monday, Apr 30, 12 @ 12:44 pm:

    If there is someone who thinks they’re just gonna cut their way out of this Medicaid mess, they are badly in need of mental health coverage right about now…. Taxes suck. The cig tax, however, it is about as fair and doable an option as any other. Sorry Rich, hopefully you’re gonna have to pay more for those smokes sometime soon!


  31. - ChiefM - Monday, Apr 30, 12 @ 12:45 pm:

    It is a win-win. People will quit smoking thus lower the health care burden on the state. Also it will raise money for the state.


  32. - J - Monday, Apr 30, 12 @ 12:49 pm:

    ==Taxing cigarettes will reduce consumption, especially among low income persons.==
    Sadly, low-income persons are the least likely to quit.


  33. - Fed up - Monday, Apr 30, 12 @ 12:50 pm:

    Yes it is fair. I do believe we have reached the point of diminishing returns tho. The amount of people buying cigs in Indiana is astounding. Oh well they probably get gas and gamble while they are there.


  34. - Bill White - Monday, Apr 30, 12 @ 12:56 pm:

    Missouri may have a referendum coming up:

    === JEFFERSON CITY — Smoking could get more costly as some seeking to raise Missouri’s lowest-in-the-nation cigarette tax expect to submit signatures this week to put the issue before voters in November.

    The proposal calls for increasing Missouri’s tax on each pack of cigarettes by 73 cents and steering the additional money to education and smoking prevention and cessation. Taxes on other tobacco products also would be increased.

    Read more here: http://www.kansascity.com/2012/04/29/3581515/missouri-voters-could-decide-on.html#storylink=cpy


  35. - capncrunch - Monday, Apr 30, 12 @ 1:19 pm:

    The adjectives fair and progressive are not applicable to a tax which is paid voluntarily. It can legally be avoided by citizens at all income levels.


  36. - Wumpus - Monday, Apr 30, 12 @ 1:20 pm:

    Yes, just call it a per pack deductible. Smoking is a choice, not a necessity like food.


  37. - Cal Skinner - Monday, Apr 30, 12 @ 1:20 pm:

    Tax addicts, which will benefit criminals who smuggle cigarettes into Illinois.

    When I first looked at the smuggling issue back in the 1990’s the profit was $100,000 a semi.

    Yesterday a Chicago Tribune piece said it was up to $1 million.


  38. - A modest proposal - Monday, Apr 30, 12 @ 1:27 pm:

    I don’t mean to be cynical, but if they are going to be using the program, why not make them pay for it?


  39. - reformer - Monday, Apr 30, 12 @ 1:39 pm:

    The cigarette excise tax is the most regressive form of taxation.

    Our Illinois state and local tax system is already one of the most regressive among the states, putting a relatively heavier burden on those with the least ability to pay.

    It is ironic that Republicans are using the regressiveness argument, since they normally resist progressive taxation and support regressive sales taxes and fees to fund their pork projects.


  40. - TCB - Monday, Apr 30, 12 @ 1:41 pm:

    Yes absolutely it’s fair….these people are the same ones who will be relying on Medicaid to pay their medical bills, the state is certainly within its right to generate revenue by taxing a huge cost driver……this is a double win.


  41. - Knome Sane - Monday, Apr 30, 12 @ 1:51 pm:

    First off, a 2008 poll is hardly current, but I suspect that the rates would probably be the same in 2012 unfortunately.

    What I would like to see is what affect higher taxes have on those income levels. Do states with higher cigarette taxes have lower smoking rates per income level? If it has a diminishing effect, then boost the taxes.

    I voted yes because smoking related health care costs are significantly higher than non-smoker related costs.


  42. - Janet - Monday, Apr 30, 12 @ 1:57 pm:

    Low income and minority individuals have been targeted by the tobacco industry - IS THAT FAIR? They lied about their product and got people addicted. IS THAT FAIR? African American men are 34 percent more likely than white men to develop lung cancer. IS THAT FAIR? Making cigarettes more expensive will decrease the health impacts in low income communnities and fund should go to programs to help smokers quit and provide needed health care for those that have not been able to quit. NOW THAT IS FAIR.


  43. - zatoichi - Monday, Apr 30, 12 @ 1:59 pm:

    Users need to pay their way. OK, I follow that. Will this same logic stretch to weight? I realize all obese people have a genetic marker that controls their metabolism and causes weight gain. They are simply innocent bystanders. Too bad about their health. Once you are there, does a tax follow for all containers that contain BPA because of the link to cancer. How about a additional tax at restaurants for large size meals and all you can eats? Double tax on all vehicles that get under 22 mph? Extra tax on anyone who cannot demonstrate they cannot run a mile in under 12 minutes? Special beer tax? Higher tax on all processed foods? Turn I55 and I57 into tollways? Where does it end? No matter what is done, the total revenue collected will not meet the cash needed to pay the bills.


  44. - Robert - Monday, Apr 30, 12 @ 2:16 pm:

    Yes, fair, but is it really $1/pack rather than a % tax for a pack set at whatever the avg. per pack tax revenue would be an additional $1?

    If so, that’s fairly foolish as (1) it makes the tax more regreessive and (2) the most price sensitive smokers, the ones buying bargain cigarettes, are more likely to go over the border than the ones paying premium prices.


  45. - Rich Miller - Monday, Apr 30, 12 @ 2:25 pm:

    Yes, it’s a buck a pack.


  46. - johhnypizza - Monday, Apr 30, 12 @ 2:30 pm:

    I voted yes because we cannot truly expect to cut our way out of the Medicaid hole. Something has to give somewhere. By attaching the savings to the Medicaid plan, the incresed revenue is matched by the federal government. People can quit smoking if they really want/need to. Anything more than a dollar increase will cause too many people to quit thus making the tax increase revenue neutral - that is not what the governor is looking for. Also, the Chicago Tribune did a good piece in Sunday’s paper about the black market that develops when cigarette taxes go too high. So, if you are an out of work entrepreneur, there is an opportunity for you in Illinois.


  47. - Downstate Babe - Monday, Apr 30, 12 @ 2:47 pm:

    Smoking is a choice. Smokers choose to use their disposable income on tobacco products. Yes, smokers are addicted to nicotine but, they can also choose to quit and save their health, Medicaid costs and, not pay a regressive tax.


  48. - Hoping for Rational Thought - Monday, Apr 30, 12 @ 2:50 pm:

    Absolutely yes. Since you can only charge very limited cost sharing on Medicaid patients and zero on most it acts as a Medicaid cost sharing since most Medicaid patients are lower income. Buying cigarettes is optional not mandatory. Even if addicted people can stop.


  49. - Anonymous - Monday, Apr 30, 12 @ 2:51 pm:

    Several years ago, we had a sizeable tobacco settelment fund that was supposed to have been spent on educating people about the dangers of smoking tobacco and assisting smokers to quit. Most of that money was used by the state for other purposes. Kind of ironic then, and now.


  50. - Chevy owner/Ford County - Monday, Apr 30, 12 @ 2:52 pm:

    Reformer: The cigarette tax is not regressive. It impacts all who elect to smoke exactly the same without regard to their income. No one is forced to pay this tax…it is an elective tax.


  51. - mokenavince - Monday, Apr 30, 12 @ 3:14 pm:

    If it gets people to quit smoking it’s a good tax.
    Spending your golden years chained to oxygen is no fun.We know smoking is the cause of many illness’s the taxpayer gets to pay for these sick smokers. The tax is fair.


  52. - Jeff Trigg - Monday, Apr 30, 12 @ 3:26 pm:

    No. Its obviously unfair to anyone with a fair mind. Smokers are not the only ones who cost the Medicaid system, yet they are the only ones being asked to pay higher taxes. Tax everyone who supposedly increases costs to Medicaid and we can start talking about fairness.

    $890 million in Medicaid to pay for 89,621 baby deliveries. Having a baby is a personal choice. Lets reword some the statements made here in favor of this regressive tax, and see how people sound.

    If fewer women have babies they can’t pay for, Medicaid bills go down.

    It acts as a stick to help women stop having babies they can’t afford and poor women having babies adds to the cost of Medicaid.

    Sex is not a required activity for rich or poor. The poor and the rich and those in between can all make the choice to haves sex and get pregnant or not.

    Having babies is terribly difficult to stop. Use a portion of the increase to fund free stop having babies you can’t afford clinics as well.

    Congratulations, folks, for using the exact same logic China uses to mandate abortions, to save the state money and punish people for sinful behavior.

    Why not a $400/year tax on all women to defray the $890 million/year cost of them choosing to have babies they can’t afford? Why not just a 5cent or 10 cent cigarette tax increase combined with taxes on alcohol, bad drinks, bad foods, and bad habits that also cost Medicaid? Why not a tax on the overweight, with mandatory quarterly weigh-ins? Why not a tax on people that don’t exercise enough? Why not forced abortions for women who can’t afford their babies?

    Taxes per pack in Chicago already amount to $4.67 per pack before sales tax and not including the MSA. Adding another dollar to that is a recipe for even more violent crime in Chicago. How much will that drive up enforcement and crime costs? How much will the state lose in income taxes because of lost jobs and higher business costs to insure and secure the tobacco that is now worth more? How much will the state lose in other sales taxes because of fewer sales of stop and grab items?

    Also, the revenue projections are as close to a lie as you can get. No way they bring in $330 million. And when they don’t, Medicaid loses $2 for every dollar under their projection because of the federal matching. Who pays then? Where are the feds going to get the $330 million increase being sent to Illinois, higher taxes on what?

    Singling out smokers to pay is wrong when they are not the only segment that cost Medicaid more and they are already paying some of the highest cig taxes in the US.


  53. - Observing - Monday, Apr 30, 12 @ 3:26 pm:

    If a person smokes a pack each day and the cost is $6 per pack, then $2190 out of his or her income is spent on cigarettes. That’s a huge percentage of someone who is in the $6000 to $11999 income range. In fact, if you are in that income range, the liklihood that you are getting some benefits from taxpayers is very plausible. If that’s the case than the burden on taxpayers for smokers is a double screw job: Wasted benefits and taxpayer paid health care. Yes, it’s good to raise taxes on cigarettes.


  54. - Louis Howe - Monday, Apr 30, 12 @ 3:35 pm:

    Normally, I am not supportive of consumption taxes. However, cigarettes are such nasty killers that I would support almost an infinite tax to reduce consumption. It’s a no brainer.


  55. - Yellow Dog Democrat - Monday, Apr 30, 12 @ 3:59 pm:

    I voted “Yes”, but a few facts are in order:

    1. Most of the cost for Medicaid is not for people we would traditionally call “The Poor.” 2/3 of the costs are attributable to the 1/3 of enrollees who are seniors and people with disabilities.

    2. The state of Illinois has the opportunity and in my view, the obligation, to use a portion of this money to fully fund smoking cessation programs for the poor, as well as other prevention strategies which would not only prevent much bigger and more expensive problems down the road, but result in a 1% increase in our federal Medicaid funding.

    3. Polling shows “The Poor” overwhelmingly support the increase. The Tobacco Industry and tobacco retailers should take off their masks and admit this has nothing to do with protecting the poor and everything to do with the fact that a tobacco sin tax has the net effect of reducing new smokers and encouraging current smokers to quit.


  56. - Bill White - Monday, Apr 30, 12 @ 4:06 pm:

    @ Jeff Trigg

    I believe IL cigarette taxes currently rank 32nd among the various states and are below the national average. Even after the proposed $1 a pack increase, IL cigarette taxes will remain lower the WI cigarette taxes.


  57. - Jeff Trigg - Monday, Apr 30, 12 @ 4:28 pm:

    Bill White - you are forgetting county and local taxes, which other states do not allow. Cook County adds $2 per pack, Chicago adds $.68 per pack, other Cook County cities like Evanston also add taxes. A huge chunk of our population lives in Cook County, so you can’t ignore them in a “national average” comparison.

    The combined total tax in Chicago of $4.67 per pack is in the top 5 in nation, and was the highest in the nation a few years ago.

    If the GA wants to make Cook/Chicago get rid of their local cig taxes so the state can charge more, you have a point. That extremely high Cook Cty tax is robbing the state of revenue.

    In 2004, state cig tax revenue was $760 million. In 2006, after Cook/Chicago increased their taxes, state revenue dropped $120 million to $640 million in 2006.


  58. - cermak_rd - Monday, Apr 30, 12 @ 4:40 pm:

    Jeff Trigg,
    The difference is that having babies is a human right and smoking is not. Also, the US has a shameful history of involuntarily sterilizing the poor and “unfit”. I’m pretty sure no one is interested in revisiting that.


  59. - wordslinger - Monday, Apr 30, 12 @ 4:44 pm:

    –I think I read that each $1 increase in smoke prices causes a 10% decrease in smokers.–

    You say that like it’s a bad thing.

    And thanks, Pluto, can always count on you for the Nanny State nonsense.

    To the bill:

    I’m a smoker, and if I live long enough, smoking will probably kill me. But that’s my choice and I pay a lot of money for private health insurance, which my carrier willingly accepts for the risk.
    But I have no problem with society putting a high price on my recklessness.

    Do I contradict myself? Very well then, I contradict myself. I am large, I contain multitudes.

    Point is, actions have consequences, and I’ll have to pay for my actions one way or the other. If you want to smoke, or smoke weed, or drink old-skull-popper, or burn fossil fuels, you can pay more for the societal consequences that will surely come.

    Don’t you alleged “conservatives” believe in personal responsibility anymore? Or do you just want to do what you want, then play the victim when the bill comes and take the free ride?


  60. - Jeff Trigg - Monday, Apr 30, 12 @ 4:48 pm:

    Another point is that the supposed Medicaid savings aren’t all they are being portrayed as. From Edward McClelland at NBC Chicago.

    “What it forces people to do is roll their own, since the tax on loose tobacco is lower than the tax on packaged smokes. Unfiltered hand-rolled cigarettes expose smokers to more tar than mass-produced cigarettes. According to a study by the Norwegian Cancer Registry, rolling your own is twice as likely to result in lung cancer as smoking a factory cigarette.”

    With this tax, some might quit, but an equal amount might also start rolling their own filterless cigarettes. The net result to Medicaid costs in that scenario is zero.

    Taking a page out of the drug warriors book, excessive taxation on tobacco will serve to fund terrorists and violent gangs by increasing black market activity because of a $5.67 per pack tax in Chicago. This extreme tax will fuel more gang activity and violence in Chicago. I hope supporters of this increase realize that the next time we see a gangbanger kill someone for encroaching on his illegal cigarette selling territory, or a shop owner gets killed when thugs want to steal tens of thousands worth of cigarettes from just a few boxes of them.

    Just say no to more violence caused by a $5.67 per pack cigarette tax in Chicago.


  61. - Jeff Trigg - Monday, Apr 30, 12 @ 5:02 pm:

    cermak, why isn’t smoking a human right? I think you are wrong about that. I don’t have the right to use tobacco because why? Do I own my own body, or does the government own it? A government that can tell me I don’t have the right to smoke is a government that can tell women they don’t have the right to make babies they can’t afford.

    Smokers don’t have the right to force others to pay for their habits, I’d agree there, but then it follows that women don’t have the right to force others to pay for the birth of their child.


  62. - cermak_rd - Monday, Apr 30, 12 @ 5:11 pm:

    Jeff Trigg,

    Human rights, to me, are defined by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. If smoking wants to be included there, the tobacco lobbyists know who to lobby.


  63. - Jeff Trigg - Monday, Apr 30, 12 @ 5:24 pm:

    cermak, I’d say we are born with our rights, they are not given to us by the UN or any government agency or organized group. Our country’s founders apparently agreed with me. So maybe China should lobby the Universal Declaration of Human Rights to take away women’s right to have babies they can’t afford because it costs the government money. If the Universal Declaration of Human Rights said women don’t have the right to have babies they can’t afford, would you be ok with that, or would you still think women have the right to have babies no matter than one group of people say?

    Sorry, smoking is as much of a human right as a poor woman’s choice to have a baby.


  64. - cermak_rd - Monday, Apr 30, 12 @ 5:46 pm:

    Jeff Trigg,

    In the US our rights are given to us by common consent. After all, we could amend the Constitution tomorrow to override Habeas Corpus, to override Universal suffrage etc.

    For me, though, when I’m looking for a handy guide to what is and is not a human right, I look to the Universal Declaration as that is what most of the nations of the world agreed were basic human rights.

    No one is saying that it will be illegal to smoke. But there is no right to pay a certain rate for your tobacco products. Just as a woman has the right to have babies, but has no right to expect government money to support said infant (IL has decided to offer such support, but it is not a human right).


  65. - Jeff Trigg - Monday, Apr 30, 12 @ 6:16 pm:

    cermak, I’d say, in the US, our inherent rights are taken away from us by common consent. After all, we could amend the Constitution tomorrow to re-establish slavery and take away the vote from women. Being a free person is a right even if there is common consent saying the opposite and written in law, as was the case in America for a couple centuries. Common consent doesn’t give rights. It may recognize them finally after a civil war, but it doesn’t give them. We are born with those rights.

    I do agree there is no right to pay a certain price for tobacco. However, you said smoking is not a right, and that is a different issue completely than price regulations.

    Are you saying I only have the right to smoke now because there is common consent that smoking is a right? And that if common consent decided to outlaw smoking tomorrow, I would lose my right to smoke because of that common consent? See the problem there? Common consent has nothing to do with the rights we are born with. Common consent can choose to recognize our inherent rights, and common consent can choose to take away our inherent rights, but common consent can not define our inherent rights, otherwise we are all slaves to whatever the majority may want.


  66. - Douglas - Monday, Apr 30, 12 @ 6:59 pm:

    If all this was about was raising that would be one thing but raise taxes on a commodity while at the same time running huge campaign against using that commodity is hypocritical to say the least. Also I am very tired of the thirty two year “war on poverty which has punished being poor in oh so many ways. Please give them a rest. (Not to mention if the tax gets high enough people will the commodity in the large grey economy where no tax is paid.)


  67. - Independent - Monday, Apr 30, 12 @ 7:03 pm:

    If this revenue is used solely for Medicaid costs, and does not slowly morph into general revenue, then I could understand the increased tax. But if we are going after Medicaid cost drivers then why are smokers the only target? There are quite a few obese people, many morbidly so, who also drive Medicaid costs. When do their vices become fair game? Cigarettes always get the hammer while high fructose corn syrup gets a pass. We musn’t anger ADM, I suppose.


  68. - Steve B - Monday, Apr 30, 12 @ 7:20 pm:

    The cigarette tax is the most regressive tax that I can think of. The burden falls on those who can least afford it. It encourages contraband sales from lower tax state of which Missouri a border state having a much lower rate is one. As is Kentucky, as is Indiana. It has a shrinking base as consumption continues to decline. It is further compounded for Illinois residents who reside in Cook County and in Chicago both of which have their own cigarette tax. It is total baloney that it will stop the incidence of smoking but only create a black market where the criminal element will find a way to thrive.


  69. - Geneseo Guy - Monday, Apr 30, 12 @ 7:25 pm:

    Yes. People smoke because they are STUPID! What is more fair than a tax on stupidity? My wife says this is a harsh statement and I shouldn’t post it. But a slow, agonizing death from lung cancer is much more harsh.


  70. - Geneseo Guy - Monday, Apr 30, 12 @ 7:27 pm:

    I hope it includes that nasty chewing tobacco too!


  71. - Cheaper by the Dozen - Tuesday, May 1, 12 @ 6:05 am:

    57 years ago, my dad worked his day job, smoked two packs a day (had for 10 years), tended bar in the evening, and supported his wife and three kids. Then the fourth came, he went cold turkey, and never smoked again. “Couldn’t afford it.” 10 more kids later, and at age 83, he’s still with us and his grandkids in good health…not sure if that had been the case if he could have afforded it. The point- perhaps the Medical/Healthcare industry, with political help, is trying to starve smokers into submission….quit, live longer, save everyone lots of hard-earned money by helping to eliminate cancer…


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