Sunday, September 23, 2007

Phillip Morris strikes again!

I walked into my block's SuperAmerica to get a Coke Zero today. Waiting at the long line of customers at the counter I spotted a bright red handout. It stated boldly "ENOUGH IS ENOUGH." About what you may ask? A cigarette tax hike of $6.10 a carton. Is that 60 cents per pack?

The brochures have been printed by Phillip Morris and have a spiffy website that looks grassroots. But it is corporate, and they know that each tax increase decreases future addicts (AKA customers).

I think smokers should first consider how much they are paying currently for their addiction ( or habit). Calculators like this one are really great!

Once you see your annual costs, you may decide to cut back or quit again soon. ( you should, even though it takes 7 times of quitting to actually do so)

But if you are a smoking advocate, then I urge you to use the same calculator and add in the extra 61 cents per pack and see how much of a difference that makes. It makes quite a dent, but still won't deter you to quit until you are ready.

But teenagers and younger children will be deterred by high prices. But do higher priced cigarettes help all consumers who purchase them? After all, we are imposing a tax whether called it by name or not.

In Minnesota we have a "Health impact fee" that has been supported by our legal system. Why is this legal? Because a pack of cigarettes does not count its actual cost to its consumers - primarily its health costs. Therefore, to give Minnesotans a taste of a packs true cost, we charge them more and call it a fee. If smokers paid the entire health impact, it would be around $9 a pack. Now that is a cost children an adults will dislike, but it gives us the costs upfront of what we choose to do now. Don't you wish every product did that for you - rather than banning them? We'd all make healthier choices through capitalism, rather than against it.

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