Monday, February 11, 2008

Leave My Cigarettes Alone!

There are currently 124,273 American farms, in 23 staes on which tobacco is grown. Altogether, the combined total of U.S. production of tobacco products comes out to 487 billion cigarettes,
2.5 billion large cigars and cigarillos, 14.2 million pound of pipe and roll-your-own tobacco,
63.3 million pounds of chewing tobacco, and 60 million pounds of snuff. I know I'm not possibly smoking that much.
Lighting a Camel Wide, I pondered these numbers and checked to see just how much all of this nicotine added up to in revenue for the tobacco industry. I was surprised at the relatively low number of around 2.9 billion dollars that the farmers of these products make. Considering that sales of tobacco products make up almost 50 billion dollars that is pumped into the economy and government coffers each year, you would think that people would have the good sense to treat us smokers with some respect.
Initiatives underway in several states to try to raise even further the taxes we pay on cigarettes and cigars are little more than extortion schemes in my mind. If the extra money would be going into paying for health care or prevention of our youth from ever starting to smoke, that would be one thing. But most of it is not.
Let's break down the average amount of tax on a pack of cigarettes so you can get a better idea of where I'm heading here. The Federal government rakes in some 14 billion dollars a year from cigarette taxes, while state and local governments get close to 12 billion. When you realize that the government is also subsidizing the tobacco growers, there's even more tax dollars going out the window. But the hook is this. In many of the states where they keep raising taxes on smokers, they claim they do this in order to penalize bad behavior, and to fund health and preventive measures. Only it doesn't work out that way.
Some of the money gets used for billboards and such, but the vast majority of these tax dollars go into 'general funds', which means the money can be used for anything. Like a new lamp for some politicos desk, or a flower pot for a corridor. Little pet projects of other politicians are favorite uses for this money. But yet, even though this has been pointed out by the press on several occasions, states keep trying to raise the taxes paid on all tobacco products. What kind of scam do they think they're pulling on us? And penalizing us for a legal activity?
We can't smoke in restaurants, when all they have to do is build a glass wall between sections. Several states and many cities have now made it illegal to smoke in bars! In bars, for God's sake! Beer and cigarettes go hand in hand like peanut butter and jelly, yet now you can see us poor suckers standing out in the snow, puffing away just to keep from traumatizing non smokers.
I know. I know. Health, second hand smoke and all that phooey. So, don't breathe in the smoke!
Jeez, all this talk about smoking and now I have to light another one. Here's my point. You non smokers have chased us out of virtually every place we used to be able to smoke. Buses, airplanes, taxis, restaurants, bars, public buildings, etc. You've made it a crime for us to imbibe in a past time that is subsidized by the government.
Bu we've got to draw the line when you attempt to rip us off for even more tax dollars, all in the name of health and prevention, when we know full well the money won't be used for these purposes. How would you like it if we decided we didn't like your bottled water and we need to put a 3 dollar a bottle tax on all of it? No? Well, then why don't you help us by insisting the government lower the taxes on a legal product, and we can save some money to buy even more cigarettes, thus helping move the economy forward? Or in other words, leave my cigarettes alone! Batmanchester

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