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Tobacco taxes aren't discrimination

Posted: Wednesday, October 22, 2003

To those who liken the tobacco tax to discrimination: If you think that a tobacco tax truly amounts to discrimination, you'll never get around it.

We get taxed on everything, like it or not. And we'll pay it somehow, like it or not. Should I feel discriminated against because every time I purchase something locally I have to pay a 5 percent sales tax? Should I feel discriminated against because if I buy a house I have to pay property tax? Or that I have to pay an 8-cent tax on every gallon of gasoline I have to buy to drive around? Or what about the alcohol tax?

The truth is to discriminate means to treat something or someone differently on a basis other than individual merit. If you want to construe that definition to make the tobacco tax a form of discrimination against smokers, then any other sort of tax is just as discriminative. For instance, a sales tax is discriminatory against those without an Internet connection who may have to buy locally and a fuel tax is discriminatory against those who choose to drive. So if there were no tobacco tax, it would have just been applied elsewhere and you'd be paying it just the same.

As pointed out by others, you do have options to get around certain taxes, like purchasing through a catalog or over the Internet. Of course, you'll be paying for packaging and shipping to Alaska, which will no doubt be via some large shipping company's expensive second-day service (oops, is that another form of discrimination?). In most cases you don't save very much by purchasing out of town; you simply deny the local government funding to improve upon the city and build new facilities, which inevitably are vandalized, need repair and require more funding.

I'm not sure what would resolve the concerns brought up recently, but I'm certain that crying discrimination is not a step in the right direction.

Jason Soza

Juneau



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