Fifty Cents

Posted: 10/04/2008 in Uncategorized
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In yet another effort to raise funds to support the ailing sovereign nation of Maine, The Baldacci group is pushing to levy still another tax increase upon the dwindling numbers of smokers in this state. According to several reports, there are two purposes for this fifty cent increase. Both of them from the Socialist lefties, and both mired in what I believe to be error.

The health industry wants the increase because they believe it will make people quit smoking due to the higher costs. That’s a good thing. There is no question that smoking is bad for your health. But is it making people quit? To some extent, studies say yes. However, in reading over some web and print articles this morning, it’s hard to say to what extent exactly. Some people who have smoked for a long time quit, but those numbers are offset by new smokers somewhat, and these studies do not take that figure into account. The result seems to be a lower rate of reduction than claimed when that figure is taken into account.

Those new smokers, of course, are younger people, mostly teens, who aren’t even allowed to be smoking under another state law. An article I read a few weeks ago claimed that studies showed a significant decrease in the level of teen smoking, so the higher taxes were working. Naturally, I went looking for the study cited, and was unable to locate the one referred to. I wonder if it actually exists? But by my own observation, I have yet to see any reduction in teen smoking. Personally, I could care less if a teen smokes or not. Not any of my business. That is something that should be left up to the parents, not the legislature.

But studies are not necessarily a valid source of figures to arrive at a factual result. The most you can obtain from any of these studies, which are actually nothing more than a survey, is a supposed result. You cannot arrive at a definitive conclusion with this type of study, because you actually haven’t studied anything. For instance, is teen smoking being reduced because fewer teens are smoking? Or is it being reduced because a greater number of teens have figured out that it’s better to lie on the questionnaire?

Look at it from this perspective; In the state of Maine, it is unlawful for an underage teen to be smoking. It is also against the law to provide tobacco to an underage teen. So, if you are a teen, (and remember back when you were a teenager here), and somebody asks you if you are a smoker, which is the same as asking if you are breaking the law, what are you going to say? Duh.

In addition to the prevention of smoking is the claim that higher taxes will help to avert a growing shortage of funds for Dirigo, the states Socialist medical care program. But think about it for a minute. These politicians have been led to believe that raising a tax on cigarettes will lead to an increase in revenue, while at the same time reducing the numbers of smokers, and thus consumption. So, they want to pay the bills with a revenue source that they want to do away with. Hmmm. Isn’t that kind of like standing at the kitchen sink, filling a glass with water and watching it dribble over the sides in hopes of getting a bigger glass of water?

Common sense says that if you want to get more money from cigarette taxes, you encourage people to smoke more, not less. Taxation and control are the hallmarks of a failing government. Almost every country in the world is rushing towards a free enterprise capitalist form of country, and yet Maine is trying to lead the way, but in the other direction. We need a big change in Augusta. We need to elect some representatives who are brave enough to reduce the tax burden and levels of control being incrementally piled upon our shoulders. It isn’t the government’s responsibility to care for the individual. But here in Maine, cradle to the grave seems to be job one. I wonder if a hammer and sickle could be incorporated into the state seal somehow, and still be artful.

Fifty cents a pack increase will do very little to further curb smoking. I’m willing to bet that it will increase New Hampshire’s GDP though. A lot of people head over to the granite state to buy cheaper smokes. But of course, they probably don’t know about the undercover revenue agents taking down their license plate numbers. Only a matter of time folks.


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