View Full Version : I'll Quit Smoking When They're $1.00 a Pack

08-28-2001, 09:39 PM
"I'll quit smoking when they cost $1.00 a pack."

That was the mantra you heard from all the kids when I was growing up in the mid 1970s. I quit my one pack per day habit in 1977, when you could still get them out of a machine for around 75 to 85 cents per(I was too young to buy them at the local liquor stores).

I was in Wal Mart the other day and bumped into this girl I hadn't seen in more than twenty years. She smoked back then, and there she was buying two packs. I couldn't believe the price of those things, around $3.50 per. Although they weren't that bad by the case, around $33.60.

One of my best friends as a kid now smokes 4 packs per day, so I don't see him much. I just can't stand being around him in enclosed places. That's too bad, he's one of the funniest people you will EVER meet.

08-29-2001, 05:25 AM
...but you couldn't pay me $100.00 a pack to smoke three packs a day for 10 years.

08-29-2001, 05:32 AM
...and I could use the money.

08-29-2001, 01:44 PM
Why should other people who freely decide to smoke have to pay $100 a pack? Cigarettes are unfairly overtaxed as it is at 3.50 a pack.


08-29-2001, 02:32 PM
I was being facetious but there is actually a shade of truth behind it. Cigarettes cause such significant harm to the user, to others exposed on a regular basis to their smoke, and even, I believe, to our medical costs and insurance rates, that I personally wouldn't mind if they resolved the entire national debt by taxing cigarettes;-)

08-29-2001, 04:24 PM
To save money on health care, we should simply scrap socialized medicine. Also, the cigarette companies did a study (that they are embarassed about but I think is funny) that smoking is such an efficient killer that it saves health care costs. Apparently terminal lung cancer at 53 is cheaper than a lingering 85 year old. As long as I don't have to breathe it myself I don't care if people smoke till they cough up a lung. And I don't want to pay their medical bills, but I don't want to have to pay ANYONE's medical bills for any condition.

08-29-2001, 04:48 PM
I suspected there was a grain of truth in your statement.

I think this attitude is appalling. Just because you don't smoke and feel cigarettes are bad for the user doesn't mean that the product should be singled out for over-taxation.

Many vegetarians claim that red meat is the biggest single detriment to the health of the average american. What if the country became mostly vegetarian and elected a bunch of vegetarians to office and now you have to pay 10.99 for a pound of hamburger just because most people think it's bad for you anyway? They don't want you feeding it to your kids because THEY believe it's unhealthy, so they tax the hell out of it?

Often the people who are screaming and crying the loudest about "tax cuts for the rich" are the same ones in favor of silly things like cigarette taxes, a regressive tax if there ever was one. The wealthy generally do not pay cigarette tax. We're perfectly satisfied taxing the hell out of the poor as long as it's not in the form of income tax.


08-29-2001, 09:02 PM
You are paying for detrimental effects of cigarettes even if you are not a user. Your health insurance costs more, and lost productivity in the workplace has been shown to be linked to tobacco consumption. It even costs corporations extra money to pay for the sick days smokers take due to extra colds and respiratory infections.

Taxing cigarettes is not a regressive tax. Poor people don't have to smoke any more than rich people have to smoke.

If the tax were high enough, poor people wouldn't smoke, either, so $100.00 a pack cigarettes would therefore be a progressive tax according to your definition since only the rich would be paying it.

What is actually appalling is that cigarettes are not banned by the FDA or at least regulated as are drugs, for they surely contain drug, and a highly addictive one at that, while many substances which are actualy less harmful are banned and regulated.

08-29-2001, 09:10 PM
The illnesses caused by smoking are very costly indeed, and smoking kills very slowly. If it killed like a bullet you would have a point, but emphysema, lung cancer and other diseases brought on by smoking are generally very slow killers.

I read of studies with the exact opposite conclusion from the one you mentioned, and somehow I think these studies are probably a bit more objective than a study done by tobacco companies. Do you really believe a study done by tobacco companies on something like this. OMG.

08-29-2001, 09:24 PM
In this case, it could be true since tobacco kills so many people. Anyway, the truth of the study is irrelevant to me. I don't look at the cost of behaviors that only hurt the one engaging in a particular behavior because it is none of my business. I don't want the government to pay for any of the costs of tobacco, either subsidies to growers or medical benefits to those dying from smoking.

08-29-2001, 09:31 PM
If the behavior only hurt the smoker, I might not agree with you entirely but neither could I fault your argument. Sadly, however, smoking hurts others and costs others money as well...it is not a case where the smoker is only harming himself.

08-29-2001, 09:32 PM
Businesses should have the right to fire the unproductive for any reason. If you are a drunk and miss work, you should be fired. If you are a smoker and can't make it because you always have some illness, the business should be able to fire you. Some employers now have no-tobacco rules for employees.

The problem with regulation of people's lives through insurance premiums is that there is no end. The logical conclusion of regulating smoking because of health care costs entails forced fitness programs with government agents forcing lifestyle choices on people in their homes. Just because I choose to have health insurance does not mean I can force health choices on others. Look, pregnancies cost a lot of money. My insurance premiums are higher because women choose to have kids. Therefore they should be banned from having kids. I don't think so.

08-29-2001, 10:33 PM
Oh my god. It's scary to be faced with this line of thought. I ordinarily pass the day without being confronted with the evidence of what I always fear in the back of my mind. People like this are out there voting in the same elections I vote in.

Suffice it to say that I believe indirect costs to the public are not justification for outright violations of constitutional freedoms. I'm not saying taxing cigarettes is such a violation, but the philosophy behind it as expressed by you is what leads to other things that are.

Like BANNING cigarettes. This idea is quite simply madness brought on by hysterical anti-smoking propoganda. Supporting such an thing is just another example of the typical american who has no problem legislating the behaviour of others because "it's good for them" and justifying it by pointing to some indirect possible expense to the public if we don't stop it.

I hope you weren't serious but if you were, I believe that you and people who think like you are the biggest danger our country faces today. No kidding. Banning cigarettes. Unbelievable.

natedogg, rational non-smoker


You say my health insurance costs more because smokers get sick more often but are you sure? Why do smokers pay a higher premium if not to shoulder the burden of their sicklier constitutions? These arguments are often spurious or the results of some spin. .

08-29-2001, 11:29 PM
1. I didn't say cigarettes should be banned. I said it is appalling that they aren't banned or regulated when so many less harmful substances are banned or regulated. See the difference?

2. I'm also not saying cigarettes should be banned because they cost others money. I'm saying that if they cost others money (and they do) then perhaps the taxable amount should be increased to reflect this and used to offset the involuntary costs to others.

08-29-2001, 11:39 PM
"Just because you don't smoke and feel cigarettes are bad for the user"

I don't feel cigarettes are bad for the user. I know cigarettes are bad for the user, and so would you, if you bothered to research it a little bit. That isn't the point I was trying to make, however.

08-30-2001, 08:05 AM
of regressive tax...gk

08-30-2001, 10:09 AM
...but if lottery tickets cost $100.00 or $500.00 each I don't think the poor would be paying this tax.

Keeping the cigarette tax low enough so that all can pay it may be what is "regressive" here.

The concept that it is a regressive tax is one debatable issue. I don't think natedogg or anyone else, however, could make the argument that $100.00 a pack cigarettes would be a regressive tax.

08-30-2001, 04:09 PM
1. Yes, I see the difference. I assumed you weren't really advocating banning cigarettes but the suggestions brought up the fact that there are people out there who would be perfectly willing to ban cigarettes.

2. I still disagree with this principle simply because I don't believe in singling out certain things for taxation to cover some ill-defined cost to the public JUST because it's something we detest. Analagous would be to tax red meat more because meat eaters have a much higher incidence of colon cancer than non-meat eaters.

But I'm glad I was correct in assuming you weren't serious about banning cigarettes. Just bringing it up pushed my buttons tho so sorry if I came off too abrasive.


08-30-2001, 04:22 PM
Lottery = idiot tax.


08-30-2001, 07:44 PM
Apologies in kind.

One main point is that cigarette smoking affects others much more so than meat-eating, for instance.

Another area where increased taxes might be appropriate: alcohol, with the additional tax revenues put into a fund for victims and the families of victims of drunk-driving accidents.

08-30-2001, 07:45 PM
So is an idiot tax a good thing?;-)

08-30-2001, 08:29 PM
Again, I couldn't disagree with you more! :)

Why should I be taxed more heavily to use a product just because some other people use it irresponsibly?

Simply put, if I go to the bar and have a couple beers while watching the game, I am in no way responsible for a drunk driver who kills somebody in Iowa. Therefore, I should not be taxed using that rationale.

Just my philosophy on this stuff.


08-31-2001, 11:12 AM
Well, a great many people do use alcohol irresponsibly and cause thousands of deaths and shattered lives in the process. However, perhaps the more appropriate place for the special tax in this case would be on the companies which produce the product, rather than on the consumers. Note that the consumption of alcohol does not affect the air others breathe (except for serious whiskey breath;-)

08-31-2001, 04:33 PM
I'm with Natedogg on this one.

just one thing M, Whether you tax supply (companies) or demand (consumers) is for the most part irrelevant. In a competitive marketplace the tax burden will be the same on both parties regardless of who receives the bill from the IRS.