Attention taxationists who complain about people who don't want to be taxed yet again (see Bart Watson's letter Oct 21): You're in denial. That's understandable, because denial is a classic sign of addiction and there is no substance in the universe more addicting than tax money. Nevertheless, we need to confront you yet again with reality.
The facts are that public health had nothing to do with the latest tax increase on cigarettes. CBJ, seeing that state money is becoming scarcer, was and is looking for other ways to replace the lost revenue.
Raising the tobacco tax seemed a winner:
1) It hasn't been raised for years.
2) We can sell it as a "health issue" and get most of the sheep to agree it's "for the children."
It appears to have worked. The anti-smoking forces hailed it as a wonderful preventative measure, smiting down anyone with the courage to say "no" to a new or raised tax with a smokescreen (sorry) of shrill announcements and diatribes to shout down the opposition. Child protection raised the banner of "preventing them from starting," ignoring the fact that any suitably motivated teen will put forth the cash if they want cigarettes, no matter what the cost.
The only difference with the tobacco tax here and the famed espresso tax of Seattle is theirs failed because it would effect a large number of the population, instead of a small group already marginalized and ostracized by everyone.
Discriminatory? Well, you're taxing one group instead of everyone equally, so it sure isn't fair and balanced. And Mr. Watson, don't tell me the tax is going to "recoup some of the burdensome expenses placed on society by smokers." I haven't seen one single reference to any, much less all of the tax being dedicated to Bartlett Regional Hospital for treatment and/or prevention of smoking. Please don't try to hide this tax increase behind the label of "smart policy." It's nothing more than a governmental body raising a tax they know will pass. That's simply smart tactics.
By the way, I quit cigarettes years ago. I just have the occasional cigar to irritate the no-smoking zealots.