This is an interesting story about the success of a program in Wisconsin, where a $1 cigarette tax lead to more people trying to/actually quitting. But, before I get into that, I'd like to share my point of view on tobacco and taxes. I'm for taxes on tobacco as a way of diversifying the family farming industry in North Carolina. I'm also against growing tobacco because it is an immoral crop - a crop that leads to addiction, pain, agony, and finally death. It kills more people than drunk drivers, it kills more people than heroin, it kills more people than Osama bin Laden, it ruins more lives than gambling or fornication or adultery or taking the Lord's name in vain. It is immoral.
The only reason we allow its growth is to make rich, white men richer and because it is the only good, addictive drug that we grow here in the US. As Chris Rock says:
God forbid some brown people got wealthy... We can't have that! Because drugs come from brown countries. We can't have no wealthy brown people!
If drugs were legalized, there would be a drug spot in every corner. It wouldn't be a Starbucks. It'd be Weedbucks. McDonald's? McCokeald's. Krispy Kreme? Kracky Kreme.
Chris Rock is probably right, if rich, white men could grow poppy here or could take over a place where it was grown, say Afghanistan, and reap profits while killing off their customers. I'm sure they would.
Taxing tobacco, here's my take:
- North Carolina produces almost three-quarters of the flue-cured tobacco grown in the United States.
- About 95% of this tobacco is used for cigarettes.
- However, much of the tobacco produced in North Carolina is turned into cigarettes in other states or countries, meaning North Carolina loses the financial, manufacturing impact of the tobacco.
- North Carolina is 32nd in cigarette tax, which means 31 other states earn more in taxes from our tobacco than we earn.
- States use that tobacco tax money to improve their schools, infrastructure, health, and other aspects that make them more attractive to new businesses.
- Michigan has brought in over $1 BILLION each year based on their $2/pack cigarette tax. That is a tax based almost entirely on the tobacco grown here in North Carolina and turned into cigarettes outside North Carolina.
My analysis? We get screwed when it comes to tobacco. But, not just through loss of profits, but through loss of family farming. Farming in North Carolina has been tied to tobacco for so long that the fortunes of this community are tied to smoking - an immoral twist for such a moral population of folks.
Indeed, things are only getting worse, because the rise in cigarette production in the US is over.
The picture is more bleak than this graph suggests, because the amount of tobacco consumed is actually going down even faster.
Why? Because the tobacco is used in cigarettes, supposedly, but in fact cigarettes have less and less tobacco each year.
So, tobacco farming is dying in North Carolina. Add to that the end of the federal tobacco program and what you are left with is an end to a way of life in North Carolina, and a chance at a new beginning.
Madison -- A $1-per-pack increase in the cigarette tax went into effect on Jan. 1, and in the first week of the increased tax, 9,000 smokers contacted the Wisconsin Tobacco Quit Line, according to Gov. Jim Doyle. That's about equal to the number of calls in an average year; typically, an average of 200 people call the line every week.
That gives Doyle more fodder for another part of his anti-smoking plan - enacting a statewide smoking ban in all work places, including restaurants and bars. Nearly half the states in the nation have such bans in place."We know which way history is going," Doyle said in a statement. "The Legislature should act so that Wisconsin does not become the ashtray of the Midwest." Legislative leaders indicated Wednesday the chances of a smoking ban passing the Legislature this session are slim.
So, we tax cigarettes at $2 per pack, we make $1 BILLION a year for awhile. What do we do with that money? We put it into renewable, organic, sustainable family farming. We could give GRANTS of $10,000 a year to 100,000 family farms for 6 years. Or, we could give grants of $100,000 to 10,000 family farms, assuming $1 billion in taxes each year.
In fact, it is really really hard to find good numbers about cigarette sales in North Carolina - go ahead, google it. But, I have found that in 2005, North Carolina per capita cigarette sales of 94 packs (Jeebus, that is a lot considering how many people don't smoke). At that time, there were 8,683,242 people living in North Carolina, according to the Census. So, that means that we sold....wait, this can't be right....
816,224,748 MILLION packs of cigarettes. Alone. Just cigarettes. Wow. So, tack $2 onto each pack and you get a Family Farming Fund of $1,632,449,496 EACH YEAR. Just from cigarettes, not including any other taxable sources of tobacco. That means we could give grants of $100,000 to more than 15,000 family farms each year. There appears to be about 50,000 family farms in North Carolina. We could give every family farm about $20,000 a year for several years to make the transition from tobacco to food crops. Within ten years, if every penny of that money went to helping small, family farmers then North Carolina would be the world leader in local, organic, sustainable agriculture.
There would be a number of health benefits.
- Kids would stop smoking.
- Adults would stop smoking.
- The excess food created from the 10,000 family farms could be sold at cost to local schools. There would be a guarantee of sale and our kids would get fresh food. Yummie, imagine that!!!
It's win, win, for everybody except.....
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