“Democrats in Congress have proposed new legislation with good intent, ambiguous consequences, poor planning and probably little effect. Once again, smokers get caught in the middle. Cause: increasing children’s health coverage. A great noble cause, right? Providing health insurance for children whose parents aren’t insured is always a good thing.””
Democrats in Congress have proposed new legislation with good intent, ambiguous consequences, poor planning and probably little effect. Once again, smokers get caught in the middle.
Cause: increasing children’s health coverage. A great noble cause, right? Providing health insurance for children whose parents aren’t insured is always a good thing.
Increased health coverage funding for everyone who can’t afford it would be better, but would be a difficult task to achieve. Especially since the proposed bill will only provide $35 billion. That amount of money can affect children’s health coverage to a greater degree than it can the general population.
The plan: increase the federal tax on tobacco products by 156 percent, which sounds like a lot, but it’s equivalent to about 61 cents per pack. It’s still a large increase, but when you consider it is supposed to fund the bulk of that $35 billion, it almost doesn’t seem like enough.
Maybe it’s not.
There are a number of potential arguments against this tax, one being that we would be paying for a good cause through a sin tax.
Another is the principle that we shouldn’t be exploiting the addictions of others to raise money. Why should smokers have to pay for health care?
Next, there’s the argument that, based on statistics that more lower-income and lower-education people are more likely to smoke than affluent and wealthy people do, this is a regressive tax; its burden is placed upon the less wealthy.
Finally, there’s the chance that some people will quit smoking because of the higher price, which could potentially offset the additional revenue.
However, this tax is still a good thing.
First, the government has the attack: ‘If you oppose the tax, you oppose children’s health care and are a bad person.’
Next, this really isn’t a regressive tax because smoking is a voluntary choice, and it just so happens that more lower-income people choose to smoke. Pure coincidence. Someone could just as easily choose not to smoke. Effectively, they are choosing whether or not they want to pay a higher tax.
The tax revenue from tobacco products probably won’t decrease either, as the tax has increased numerous times within the past several years and the number of smokers has not declined. Basically, an extra 61 cents per pack is not going to be enough of an incentive to quit, which means more money. It probably won’t come close to the $35 billion that it’s supposed to, but every bit counts.
And for people who are influenced to quit smoking by the higher price for cigarettes, well, good. Smoking is bad for you anyway, and there’s no good reason that people shouldn’t be charged more money to hurt themselves. Especially when it’s for a good cause.
Unfortunately, George Bush has publicly announced that he will veto the bill.
So much for a good cause.