Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Economic Stimulus Plan: Smoke More

News Alert America: The government wants you to smoke!!!

Despite what clever campaigns like "Truth" want to tell you (and I haven't figured out yet how hallucinogenic musicals is a good anti-smoking campaign), smoking cigarettes is good. Sure, there are carcinogens, so it's undoubtedly bad for your health. But it is good for the country because of the taxes imposed on cigarette sales.

Cigarette packs are subject to state taxes ranging from 17 to 257.5 cents per pack1. And in 20% of the states there are additional taxes for counties, cities, and administrative fees. That means that for every pack of cigarettes not bought, states do not get this money. And when states have low revenues, they have to request money from the government, who either decide to borrow more from the American citizenry (through increased federal taxes) or other countries, increasing our national debt.

From 2000 to 2007 the U.S. median tax increase on a pack of 20 cigarettes was $1.002. So for every pack not bought in 2008, state governments are losing a dollar.

According to research done by the American Cancer Society, the decrease of smoking has reduced lung cancer deaths in males by 40% from 1991 to 20033. This twelve year span is often viewed as a great period of economic growth. Through deficit deductions, budget cuts, and tax breaks, the economy surged during the majority of Bill Clinton's presidency.

But during that same time period, more people were learning of the health risks of cigarette smoking, and "theTruth" campaign was formed in 1998 out of Florida. Because of its youth-oriented campaign style, many young people were not beginning to smoke as they entered adulthood, as had happened over past generations. This led to less cigarette packs being bought, leading to less taxes off cigarette sales, leading to more federal lending to state budgets, which finally led to the economic meltdown during the Bush Administration.

While it is a large leap to say that a decrease in cigarette consumption was the only thing that caused our current economic crisis, it can certainly be viewed as a contributing factor. In an attempt to alleviate some of the economic woes our country is currently facing, anti-smoking campaigns should be abandoned. These advertisements have served their purpose of warning of the dangers of smoking. Parents are now raising their kids with this knowledge; children are encultured from birth with the idea that smoking is bad for one's health. It is now necessary that people choose for themselves which is better: preserving one's health or preserving one's country?

As John F. Kennedy so famously said in his inaugural speech, "Ask not what your country can do for you - ask what you can do for your country."4

1. State Excise Tax Rates on Cigarettes, http://www.taxadmin.org/fta/rate/cigarett.html
2. Cigarette Tax Increases 2000-2008, http://www.taxadmin.org/fta/rate/cig_inc02.html
3. Thun, M.J. and Jemal A. "How much of the decrease in cancer death rates in the United States is attributable to reductions in tobacco smoking?" Tobacco Control 15: 345-347 (2006). Online: <http://tobaccocontrol.bmj.com/cgi/reprint/15/5/345>
4. Kennedy, J.F. Inaugural Address, Washington D.C. 1961. Online: <http://www.jfklibrary.org/Historical+Resources/Archives/Reference+Desk/Speeches/JFK/003POF03Inaugural01201961.htm>


A Wanderer's Heart said...

Is this all your original work? How do you have time for all of this? When your writing blogs with footnotes, you should be concentrating on something substantial for the world food crisis or sex trafficking, for heaven's sake.

Although I do give you ten points for wittiness and an extra five for spelling and vocabulary. ;)

Calling you soon.

A Wanderer's Heart said...

* substantial like the world food crisis...

Christine said...

I am wondering about the formal citations as well. Blog publishing an essay you had to write for school maybe?

It's amusing. I hope you got a good grade... or at least great blog traffic. :)

Aaron said...

This was actually an original blog post, not anything for a grade. It is however, school related, as I was avoiding studying for a test by writing this.

Expect more researched posts in the future. I think it's fun to bend facts and statistics to my will.

The cup is half full of something I don't like said...

Aaron: I believe you missed a point in the "smoke more for your country" post. Treating cancer is expensive and a drain on our healthcare expenditures. Therefore, individuals must commit to smoking 10 or more packs a day. Not only will this provide additional revenue but the high tar to lunge tissue ratio will dramatically decrease health care costs.

BTW: We tried it last night. Kaluha doesn't work so well because it is coffee based. The caffeine interferes with the desired effect.