Friday, July 01, 2005

Leg Update & Cigarette tax

I had a follow up with the doctor today about my leg. Things are definately looking better. He wants another week's worth of antibiotics and I am not going to fight him on this. I have played "I thought we got this the first time" before and it is NOT a fun game. He also gave me the ok to start fitness walking again. He wants me to start slowly (like I needed him to tell me that), but at least I can get moving again.

Cigarette Tax Goes Up in Ohio

Now let me start out by saing that I am not a smoker, period. After seeing the brown sludge they pulled out of my mom's lungs even if I was considering smoking that would kill the thought right quick.

Today Ohio raised their cigarette tax by 70 cents to $1.25/pack. Cigarette smokers are an easy target for such taxes - smokers are not liked by a large part of the population, cigarettes are sold in a way to make them easy to tax, and given the addictive nature of cigarettes people will probably find a way to pay the tax increase.

Now I realize there are 2 basic reasons for playing around with taxes. The first is revenue. The second is to carrot & stick people into certain behaviors. For example at $1.25/pack many people will quit smoking (stick). However with mortgage interest being deductible many people feel they need to buy a house (carrot).

With the taxes raising by such a large amount, the revenue aspect will probalby not yield as much as the powers that be would like because of people quitting. The hope is that there will be lots of people quitting that will help reduce medicaid expenses down the road.

Now in theory this all looks good, however to me it seems a bit unfair to the cigarette smoker when all tobacco use will cause an increase in some kind of cancer. Allow me to repeat that: all tobacco use will cause an increase in some kind of cancer. So, to me at least, it would seem logical to increase the tax on ALL tobacco products. Granted, relatively speaking, other forms of tobacco use are relatively minor, but if the goal (and it has been stated by some state congress people) is more to encourage people to quit instead of raise money then it should be across the board. I realize that taxing cigars & pipe tobacco is tough, but I would think that at the minimum it could be done by weight.

Also, I would think that taxing alcohol would be an equally good thing. How much does the result of drunk driving cost Ohio medicaid? I would bet you coul make as much off a tax on alcohol as you would the cigarette tax.

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