Saturday, February 28, 2009

Up In Smoke

The other day my daughter asked me what I was going to do when cigarettes go up on April first. I believe that she was hoping that I’d say that I was going to quit smoking.

The Federal Government has added an additional sixty-two cents per pack in taxes. Actually it will come to sixty-six cents after adding the Florida State Retail Sales Tax. This is one thing that I never really understood; how can a State Government tax a Federal tax? Some Counties and Municipal Governments also so do this; so you end up paying a tax on a tax on a tax.

The Government claims that they have raised the cigarette tax, partly to discourage young people from smoking. This is a good idea. I’ve been a smoker for more than forty years and I tell young people to stay away from cigarettes. Some of them call me a hypocrite because I continue to smoke. My retort is “Don’t end up like me.”

I’ve tried, several times, to quit and had actually gone nearly nine months smoke free. I’ve used the nicotine chewing gum (which burned my gums and tongue) and the patch and I still craved cigarettes. The doctors said that I have a psychological addition rather than a nicotine addiction. I think that I have both. But I have noticed that I crave cigarettes more when I do certain things.

Why did I start in the first place? When I was young, it was in the vogue to smoke. Several of the best radio and television programs (in the 50’s and 60’s) were sponsored by cigarette companies. Most of my favorite movie and television stars smoked; John Wayne, Humphrey Bogart, etc. Even the stars that didn’t smoke pretended to smoke in the movies. This made smoking a lot more attractive than just simple peer pressure telling me that it was cool to smoke.

Then, when I joined the Army, in the mid 1960’s, I was encouraged to smoke by the cadre (“Take 10 and light them up if you have them”). We also received a free four pack of cigarettes in every box of C or K rations. In the PX (Post Exchange) cigarettes cost 20 cents per pack or $1.80 per carton. They were even less expensive overseas where you could buy them (Tax and Duty Free) for $1.05 per carton in the PX and for under a dollar in the commissary.

As far as I know, the US Military is part of the Federal Government (DOD). Therefore the Federal Government promoted the smoking of cigarettes, even though studies existed that linked cigarette smoking to cancer and lung disease (there were even warning on the packs when I was stationed overseas). The Government encouraged me to smoke and now they are taxing me (more and more) for my mistake of listening to them.

In 1970, the following message began to appear on cigarette packs; Warning, The Surgeon General Has Determined that Cigarette Smoking is Dangerous to Your Health.
I was still buying cigarettes in the PX at Fort Meade for $2.75 per carton at this time.

In my opinion, any Federal Tax on cigarettes should not be paid by military veterans who continue to smoke.

Also, I recall President Obama’s campaign rhetoric saying that there would be no new taxes on the middle class. The majority of smokers are either in the middle class or close to the poverty level (Social Security or pension). Senior (62 and older) smokers should also get a tax exemption on any Federal Cigarette Tax (past, present and future).

If we are taxing cigarettes (at the Federal level) because they are hazardous to our health, why don’t we also tax Fast Food equally? Trans fat and Cholesterol are known producers of heart disease.

Now I’m not picking on McDonald’s, but here’s a link to wikipedia’s nutritional breakdown of the Big Mac. Add to this a large order of fries (how can anyone eat a Big Mac without French Fries) and the fat content will almost double.

If President Obama is going to tax the middle and lower income classes he should do it equally!

The Beach Bum

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Blogger Steve Skinner said...

I couldn't agree more.

Sat Feb 28, 07:48:00 PM  
Blogger alfredo_tomato said...

As bad as the food is at Mickey D's, it is still considered a food and subject to the FDA. Tobacco is not a food, it's a drug. Due to their political clout $$ they were able to keep tobacco away from the FDA. Because it is an addictive drug, it makes it a good revenue stream for states.

If you want to keep tobacco away from kids, put it under the control of the FDA. That's going to happen sooner or later. They have moved most of their production offshore, in doing so they have lost political clout here. Anyway, in China they can market to kids and not have to worry about government interference.

The University of Kentucky Ag department developed strains of tobacco that could thrive in China and Latin America. The Tobacco Institute paid for the the research.

Sun Mar 01, 01:15:00 PM  
Blogger Eldonbraun said...

If you really want to quit, check out Chantix or Zyban (Wellbutrin). Both of them cut way down on the cravings. Both have contraindications and possible side effects, but you can probably take one or the other. When I quit, I did it cold turkey and turned into a basket case after two months, with insomnia, depression and so on. Zyban had me feeling more or less normal in about a week. I stayed on it six months. Now, after a year and a half, I have no urge to smoke.

Mon Mar 23, 08:49:00 AM  
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