Despite popular opinion, the vast majority of cigarette costs today do not go to tobacco companies, but to various levels of government. Proposition 10, which passed with less than 1% of the vote in 1999, added a 50¢ "sin tax" to each pack of cigarettes, and $5.00 to each carton. This creates a new $700 million bureaucratic agency in California, and not one dollar has gone to help a child so far. The Office of the Independent Legislative Analyst says that no state or county officials will even oversee the money, and that "it will be a challenge to ensure that the funds will be spent effectively."
Proposition 28, which repeals proposition 10, encourages responsibility. Parents should be responsible for their children. Adults should be responsible for themselves, and make their own choices. Undeniably, smoking is a danger to individuals. However, this in itself does not justify the relentless taxation of smokers.
Incredibly high cigarette excise taxes are discriminatory in that they only hurt smokers. They are regressive in that they tax consumption and not labor, affecting the poor far more than the affluent. Those with lower incomes are particularly hindered by sin taxes like the one proposition 10 established. Proposition 10 was bad for the poor, and hasn't discouraged any of them from smoking.
Big Tobacco Companies are not affected by these taxes; they have not in any way indicated support for Prop 28. Since people still smoke, and since according to the government's own numbers teenage smoking trends have not changed significantly since increasing regulation of tobacco, there is no reason to continue forcing people to surrender more of their hard-earned dollars for a life-style choice, even if we don't agree with that choice or think it's harmful.
Currently, less than 50¢ of each pack's price goes to the tobacco company. The remaining $3.50 or so goes to the government. There is no reason to trust the greatest financial beneficiary of nicotine addiction with the task of preventing people from smoking.
Vote yes on Proposition 28 this March 7th, and reject the hate and waste of regressive taxation. Tobacco is harmful, but we should tolerate its users; not do further harm to them.
For more information on this issue, visit www.voteprop28.com
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Last updated: 6 March 2000, Kevin Dempsey Peterson