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Here we go again

by TONI H / March 30, 2009 12:53 AM PDT

Starting April 1, people who still have jobs will have cuts in their tax liability so they get more money in their checks. However, this is, again, being on the backs of tobacco users because simultaneously, the Feds have increased their tax from $.39 (on average) to $1.01 PER PACK. That's a minimum of $7+ per carton (in some states this has automatically had the states kick in their own tax increase pushing that per pack tax even higher). This extra tax also goes into effect April 1; however, some stores had actually begun charging more earlier than that date in order to make an even larger profit on cartons already purchased by the stores for far less.

Since this tax increase is targeting ONLY a specific group, isn't this 'taxation without representation' and PROFILING?

I cannot, for the life of me, understand how the media can provide so much 'back slapping' enthusiasm and praise for the increase via tax cuts for the still employed, and hardly mention a word about how a specific group is being targeted by the perfectly LEGAL use of a product and are being gouged worse than any gas station out there has done it to drivers. At least the gouging by gas stations targeted EVERYONE 'fairly' or equally....but, once again, when the country needs revenue for anything at all, including states that want to build a new sports stadium, coliseum, entertainment center, etc. the smokers are the ONLY ones targeted to pay for it, even tho we aren't allowed to use our legal product in them. But they can allow the alcohol, another legal product, to be sold in rampant amounts and allow those people to drive away risking lives every time.


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This is only the beginning of a new wave
by Steven Haninger / March 30, 2009 2:52 AM PDT
In reply to: Here we go again

taxes you'll be seeing at all levels of government. There will be small nips taken here and there. Anything that's less price sensitive will be always be the most vulnerable. We're starting to see city services cut or options for persons to continue them on a fee basis. It's going to get more and more ugly. The US government, state and local tax networks will outdo the worlds most notorious cities known to be teeming with pickpockets. Wink

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reply to: This is only the beginning....
by caktus / March 31, 2009 3:35 AM PDT

....of "spreading the wealth." Just a general (not politcal) observation. And I've a feeling that yes, this IS just the beginning. I've also a feeling that this particular tax in a few years or so may perhaps fall on it's face as so progressively many folks are quitting or not taking up the use of smoking and smokeless tobacco. BTW, I seem to recall this same senario playing out when many manucaturers were so reklessly sude. And regardless any reasoning for raising taxes, usually the reveue is never used as intended begging even more tax hikes. Rather than fear itself, I sometimes think the thing to fear most is Congress. Sad

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Hi Toni!
by Josh K / March 30, 2009 3:39 AM PDT
In reply to: Here we go again

Been awhile, nice to see you here again.

One argument could be that the use of that legal product by people with no health insurance causes your insurance (and mine) to go up. We end up paying for their cancer treatments because of their use of a product they'd be better off without.

Maybe the tax will provide some incentive to quit. Maybe they could spend that money on nicotine patches instead of cigarettes and do themselves (and the rest of us who are paying their medical bills) a big favor.

Just some random thoughts...

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Could we make, Josh...
by J. Vega / March 30, 2009 3:49 AM PDT
In reply to: Hi Toni!

Josh, could we make the same arguments about alcohol? I think we could. If this cigarette tax did not raise enough money for that plan, could we make up for the shortage by imposing something like a tax of a dollar on every 6-pack of beer and bottle of wine or hard liquor?

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I'm not Josh
by Angeline Booher / March 30, 2009 4:42 AM PDT
In reply to: Could we make, Josh...

..... but would like to reply.

Unless a person over indulges, becomes addicted, drives while under rgthe influence, has been told he/she has a medical problem or takes medication re: which alcohol is a no-no, then alcohol is not the health risk as tobacco.

Doctors have agreed that a drink a day might be beneficial, though they warn not to start drinking just to get that benefit.

Doctors do not recommend a cigarette per day.

I had a neighbor who had heart problems and was told to quit smoking. Though she had multiple hospitalizations for her condition, she continued to smoke. Her funeral was well attended.

Addiction is hard to handle. Maybe this tax will motivate people to quit.

Speakeasy Moderator

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Come now, Angeline...
by J. Vega / March 30, 2009 12:34 PM PDT
In reply to: I'm not Josh

Come now, Angeline, using that "unless" to cut out driving under the influence and other things is not exactly honest. A lot of people get smeared all over the highway by drunk drivers or those just under the influence. Not to mention those who were drinking themselves. Then there are things like violent acts performed under the influence.
Another thing about cancer. How many things are said to cause cancer? Just a day or two ago I saw a story about the cancer risk of a red meat diet. If a smoker who ate a lot of red meat were to die, I'd wager that the cigarette use would be homed in upon and that would be blamed for the death.
But that is a side track from my original point. Alcohol is responsible for a great deal of medical expenses, so why not increase tax on it for the same reason? What is the health risk from obesity, and how much medical expense is incurred because of that?

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Excuse me?
by Angeline Booher / March 31, 2009 5:34 AM PDT
In reply to: Come now, Angeline...

I do not see that I said a person could drink and drive. Drunks never admit they are incapable of driving. However many people will go to a restaurant and have a glass of wine with dinner, or a beer. Then they drive home. IMO. no more impaired than somebody taking pain medicine or tranquilizers.

In a perfect world , NOBDY on ANY sort of medication should be behind the wheel. And that includes over-the - counter ones. But just try to tell that to them. That's why it is now called "Driving under the influence", to cover all of the other pills people pop and don't realize it is a good chance they are impaired. It has the same result as alcohol when they hit a car carrying a family of fove.

Speakeasy Moderator

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I've got a better idea
by Diana Forum moderator / March 31, 2009 12:44 AM PDT
In reply to: Could we make, Josh...

Let's legalize all illegal drugs and tax them. Look at how much money we'll save - no more war on drugs and all those taxes and Mexico will love us because the cartels down there won't have anything to sell and get rich.


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If we did, Diana...
by J. Vega / March 31, 2009 4:19 AM PDT
In reply to: I've got a better idea

Diana, if we did legalize all drugs, what do you think the "gang bangers" would do to earn money? I can't see them getting jobs at fast food or other places that pay as much.

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So we're better off just letting them keep dealing drugs?
by Josh K / March 31, 2009 11:19 PM PDT
In reply to: If we did, Diana...

I don't understand what you're trying to say.

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No we sell them just like alcohol and cigarettes
by Diana Forum moderator / April 1, 2009 1:37 AM PDT

I know that drugs are a bad thing but which is worse. Letting some people get drugs (which they will anyway) legally or letting the drug dealers run rampant though our allies and our own country?

In the Parade this week The United States has by far the world's highest incarceration rate. With 5% of the world's population, our country now houses nearly 25% of the world's reported prisoners. We currently incarcerate 756 inmates per 100,000 residents, a rate nearly five times the average worldwide of 158 for every 100,000. In addition, more than 5 million people who recently left jail remain under "correctional supervision," which includes parole, probation, and other community sanctions. All told, about one in every 31 adults in the United States is in prison, in jail, or on supervised release. This all comes at a very high price to taxpayers: Local, state, and federal spending on corrections adds up to about $68 billion a year.

Drug offenders, most of them passive users or minor dealers, are swamping our prisons. According to data supplied to Congress' Joint Economic Committee, those imprisoned for drug offenses rose from 10% of the inmate population to approximately 33% between 1984 and 2002. Experts estimate that this increase accounts for about half of the dramatic escalation in the total number imprisoned over that period. Yet locking up more of these offenders has done nothing to break up the power of the multibillion-dollar illegal drug trade. Nor has it brought about a reduction in the amounts of the more dangerous drugs--such as cocaine, heroin, and methamphetamines--that are reaching our citizens.

Justice statistics also show that 47.5% of all the drug arrests in our country in 2007 were for marijuana offenses. Additionally, nearly 60% of the people in state prisons serving time for a drug offense had no history of violence or of any significant selling activity. Indeed, four out of five drug arrests were for possession of illegal substances, while only one out of five was for sales. Three-quarters of the drug offenders in our state prisons were there for nonviolent or purely drug offenses. And although experts have found little statistical difference among racial groups regarding actual drug use, African-Americans--who make up about 12% of the total U.S. population--accounted for 37% of those arrested on drug charges, 59% of those convicted, and 74% of all drug offenders sentenced to prison.

Against this backdrop of chaos and mismanagement, a dangerous form of organized and sometimes deadly gang activity has infiltrated America's towns and cities. It comes largely from our country's southern border, and much of the criminal activity centers around the movement of illegal drugs. The weapons and tactics involved are of the highest order.

The Mexican drug cartels, whose combined profits are estimated at $25 billion a year, are known to employ many elite former soldiers who were trained in some of America's most sophisticated military programs. Their brutal tactics took the lives of more than 6000 Mexicans last year alone, and the bloodshed has been spilling over the border into our own neighborhoods at a rapid pace. One terrible result is that Phoenix, Ariz., has become the kidnapping capital of the United States, with more than 370 cases in 2008. That is more incidents than in any other city in the world outside of Mexico City.

The challenge to our communities is not limited to the states that border Mexico. Mexican cartels are now reported to be running operations in some 230 American cities. Other gang activity--much of it directed from Latin America, Asia, and Europe--has permeated our country to the point that no area is immune. As one example, several thousand members of the Central American gang MS-13 now operate in northern Virginia, only a stone's throw from our nation's capital.

In short, we are not protecting our citizens from the increasing danger of criminals who perpetrate violence and intimidation as a way of life, and we are locking up too many people who do not belong in jail. It is incumbent on our national leadership to find a way to fix our prison system. I believe that American ingenuity can discover better ways to deal with the problems of drugs and nonviolent criminal behavior while still minimizing violent crime and large-scale gang activity. And we all deserve to live in a country made better by such changes.

In short drug illegalization has not worked any better than prohibition worked. I have been advocating at least decrimilization of drug possession and spend all this money we're spending on a war we're losing (the drug war not Iraq) and use it to get everyone into rehab as soon as they're ready rather than having to wait for months for an opening or having to have lots of money (or your parents do) or excellent insurance.

Having the drugs available would eliminate the need for cartels and guns and violence. When was the last time you heard of 6000 people getting killed over a bottle of wine?


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Who is going to sell, Diana...
by J. Vega / April 1, 2009 4:53 AM PDT

First, let me put out a thought about the article's mentioning "minor dealers". The name of the game is to not get caught holding, have it in your possession for the minimal amount of time. The big time dealers get a shipment and break it up. Rapidly, it's broken into small packages and sold to gang "sets", tho break it into individual sales amounts, which are given to the final "minor dealers" on the street level. These minor dealers are the ones that hold it until they can sell it, so It would seem logical that they have the greatest chance of being caught holding. Is it any wonder that most of the people actually caught and prosecuted are at the "minor dealer" level?
But another point that hits me is about the idea of legalization is who will sell it if this takes place. Stop for a moment and consider that in the light of cigarettes. Remember the billions of dollars that cigarette companies were forced to pay because of law suit settlements where that product was said to be addictive and result in health expenses. What company would market those drugs and run the risk of being the object of similar lawsuits and possible judgments as happened with cigarettes? Some drugs have been withdrawn from the market because even though they worked for the original purpose they were later found to have undesirable side effects. Of course, law suits for damages followed. If these now illegal drugs were allowed to hit the market, I think the future lawsuit mess would defy belief.

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Not ''said to be''
by Dan McC / April 1, 2009 5:03 AM PDT

"Found to be."

There's a difference.

In either case, a big issue there was the longstanding and vociferous assertions by the industry that the findings were not true.


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by J. Vega / April 1, 2009 5:27 AM PDT
In reply to: Not ''said to be''

Consider that I was talking about lawsuits being filed, and the risk of that. At the point of the filing, things are said, and when the suit is concluded things are found. Even if the suit is dismissed, there is the problem of defense, which may not be inexpensive. Even if no suits have been filed yet, doing some things can result in a risk of future things, like lawsuits.
Here's a fully thought. I say again, for humor. If all drugs were to be made legal, your screen name here is a natural for a catchy product brand name. You could get some cocaine, cook up a batch of crack, and market it under the catchy name of "Dan's McCrack". Hey, even in a market with competition, a catchy brand name stands out and makes sales. So if Cocaine were to become suddenly legal, would you worry about the possibility of lawsuits eventually being filed against you and having to pay a judgment? Considering what happened with cigarettes, I'd bet that sooner or later such lawsuits would be filed.
Would you take that risk? That was the point I was making with my question of who would market it.

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I could but I wouldn't.
by Dan McC / April 1, 2009 5:38 AM PDT
In reply to: Consider...

I have a better sense or responsibility than the tobacco industry. And even if I were to sell a dangerous, addictive product like crack or tobacco, I would make the dangers of the product known to the buyers. Such a policy would have saved the tobacco industry a lot of trouble.


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I love it
by Diana Forum moderator / April 1, 2009 6:50 AM PDT

Let's sue all the drug dealers for the side effects. Don't put them in jail, just sue them for everything they've got.

I don't know who would sell the drugs. There are side effects to tobacco and alcohol. The cigarette companies were sued because they lied about their product being addictive. Of course anyone with half a brain knew they were bad news. Even during WWII they were called cancer sticks and coffin nails. Of course the companies added more nicotine to make them more addictive.

There is no redeaming reason for using tobacco and no earthly reason it should be legal but it is legal and pot is not. Explain the difference to me other than the fact that pot does have medicinal properties. I remember when people thought that pot was going to be legalized and cigarette companies came out with names like Tijuana Smalls (don't tell me it was really a cigarette name).


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Cancer thought...
by J. Vega / April 1, 2009 3:10 PM PDT
In reply to: I love it

Cigarettes contain nicotine. When burned, they also produce tars, which you probably have noticed on a used ashtray. If there is a link between cigarettes and cancer, what is the active ingredient involved, the nicotine or tars? Nicotine is approved by the FDA as an insecticide. It was, and still may be for all I know, popular with those wanting "natural" insecticides. Were organic gardeners using one of them risking cancer?
I bring this up because a month or two ago I was watching a BBC program about a reporter who was trying marijuana for the first time and making a show about it. Part of the show was a research chemist explaining the chemicals involved. He was quite clear in explaining that burning marijuana produced as much tar as cigarettes. So if the problem with cigarettes is the tars, might not smoking marijuana expose the smoker to the same tar problem?
With marijuana and medicinal properties, I keep noticing something. A great many of the people who I have heard mentioning that balk at the idea of getting it through a licensed pharmacy with a doctor's prescription. They want to grow their own or get it from other non- licensed sources and without the need for a prescription from an MD. Opium has medicinal properties, and you can grow the proper poppies. It's illegal, but the point is that physically it could easily be done. Those who need opium or its derivatives for a medicinal reason can get it at a pharmacy with a doctor's prescription.
Yes, marijuana has medicinal properties according to some people with a specific medical need, but I think a lot of people calling for unrestricted access to it are not thinking of allowing access for people with a verified medical need, but are calling for such unrestricted access for themselves for non-medical reasons.

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I don't think the nicotine causes the cancer
by Diana Forum moderator / April 2, 2009 11:13 PM PDT
In reply to: Cancer thought...

In fact you can grow tobacco that has no nicotine. It is just what you gets you addicted.

Maybe, if cigarettes were as expensive as the patch or gum, people would opt for the patch or gun instead.

All I'm saying is that the war on drugs is not working. In fact the cure is worse than the disease. People are getting killed so addicts can get their fix. There has to be a better way. I have offered a different way - you offer an alternative.


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The cure is worse than the disease...
by J. Vega / April 3, 2009 2:25 AM PDT

We've already been through a period of people being able to freely buy drugs. Look at the history of patent medicines in the late 1800's and the early 1900's. You could buy morphine through the Sears catalog. Heroin was sold for coughs and colds.
You asked me for an alternative. I thought I had given one, if you have a valid medical reason, get it through a pharmacy with a prescription by an MD. I guess the sticking point between us is that I don't consider something like a heroin addiction to be a valid reason for continuing to supply the addict with the heroin.
Of course, as I mentioned before, who would sell those drugs if legalized? You must have seen the TV commercials by lawyers looking for people who had taken some particular drug sold by some companies, looking for clients for damage suits against the drug company. Can you imagine the number of such suits in the future for drugs like heroin, cocaine, etc. if legalized?

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As has been stated before, the
by Dan McC / April 3, 2009 3:32 AM PDT

problem is not solely the intrinsic properties and effects of the substance, but also the expectations and understanding of the consumer. What was so egregious on the part of the tobacco industry was not that their product is inherently dangerous but that they claimed, contrary to their knowledge, that it was not. If they had advertised cigarettes as highly addictive, detrimental to most if not all bodily functions, and a clear cause of cancer and disease, they might have gotten off easier.


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The streets highways are dangerous enough as it is
by Steven Haninger / March 31, 2009 6:04 AM PDT
In reply to: I've got a better idea

Of course making it legal would eliminate the illegal use of these drugs but would it reduce their use or just get more people hooked on them? I'd also have to wonder if high enough taxes on drugs that are now illegal would just create a black market that would undercut the government's price tag.

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(NT) Maybe the Indians will start selling them tax free ;-)
by Diana Forum moderator / April 1, 2009 1:57 AM PDT
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Here's one way not to use tax money
by Steven Haninger / March 30, 2009 5:12 AM PDT
In reply to: Hi Toni!
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I disagree with Ang
by TONI H / March 30, 2009 6:09 AM PDT

and agree with Steve...two legal products, tobacco and alcohol in various formats. Sky high taxes on tobacco by the Feds and by the State, and NONE of it earmarked to offset the money spent treating the affects. However, NO mention of charging a ridiculously high tax on alcohol products when that product can and does kill instantly when abused regularly by somebody who gets behind the wheel of a car or truck and runs over somebody, runs a redlight and t-bones another vehicle, runs a schoolbus off the road, etc. There are far more drinkers out there than there are smokers anymore, and yet the smokers are the ones that are still being expected to fill the empty spot financially when governments get into trouble....even while restricting more and more the places we can use that legal product.

I'm looking to find statistics that show a recent comparison of actual smoking related deaths vs alcohol related deaths and will post what I find. Remember, that not all heart ailments/deaths or lung ailments/deaths are because of smoking...there are other illnesses that cause those deaths. But when somebody is killed in a car wreck because of a drunk driver or a kid or wife is killed by a drunken abusive husband/boyfriend, that is relatively easy to prove.


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Smoking and drinking
by Steven Haninger / March 30, 2009 6:53 AM PDT
In reply to: I disagree with Ang

I know we often hear of tragic fires caused when someone falls asleep with a lit cigarette in hand. I believe that, in quite a few of these, the person has also been drinking and possibly just passed out. So which is most responsible for the deaths? I'll say it's shared. I don't smoke and I do consider it a health risk. Consuming alcohol is as well and I could easily support higher taxes on alcoholic beverages if the money was properly earmarked and not just a way to raise revenue for the general fund. Government does have the ability to use taxation as a regulatory method but I doubt any sort of "sin" tax (alcohol, tobacco, gambling, etc.) is levied for such purpose. It's to exploit the addictions and not discourage them.

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I can top that tax increase Toni.......
by Tony Holmes / March 30, 2009 5:09 AM PDT
In reply to: Here we go again

Effective April 1, 2009 the federal excise tax on RYO tobacco will increase from $1.0969 per pound to $24.78 per pound to "fund" the SCHIP program.

That's a whopping 2,159% Increase!

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There's something odd about that ...
by Bill Osler / March 30, 2009 9:04 PM PDT

If I've done the math correctly that means the roll-your-own has gone from being taxed at a much lower rate than pre-made cigarettes to a rate about 50% higher than pre-made cigarettes.

I've never used tobacco, and I'm not sure why tobacco is assigned to certain categories or what the differences are between, for example, chewing tobacco, snuff and 'roll your own' tobacco, so you will have to excuse me if this sounds ignorant.

According to the information at: http://www.ttb.gov/main_pages/schip-summary.shtml there are HUGE increases in tax for cigars and for roll-your-own tobacco but much smaller increases for chewing tobacco and snuff. The result is that the tax per pound is widely discrepant for these various categories. That makes me wonder if somebody is going to start marketing roll-your-own style tobacco as unflavored 'chewing tobacco'. That would save about $24 per pound on taxes.

Or is there some huge difference between the products that would preclude the scam I foresee?

Personally, I think it would make more sense to assign the tax at a per-pound rate that is stable across all categories but they didn't ask me.

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I just quit!
by oldie and goody / April 2, 2009 9:40 AM PDT

I went to two smoke shops, a one pound bag, that makes two cartons and was priced at 17.95 a bag has now gone up to 41.95 at one store and 45.00 at the other. They can get the taxes from some one else, I just quit!

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Good for you but don't go looking
by Steven Haninger / April 2, 2009 10:26 AM PDT
In reply to: I just quit!

for ammo to blow your brains out because I'm hearing it's getting scarce due to fears of both more regulation and that much higher taxes on it are soon to come. You may as well live because the cost of committing suicide by tobacco or bullets is going to cost more. Wink

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by oldie and goody / April 2, 2009 12:16 PM PDT

My husband is moving out until I am over withdrawal, Can you believe he thinks I am irritable?

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