Monday, October 30, 2006

Missouri Amendment 3 - It's really quite simple

Or so says the pamphlet left on my door last night.

"Saving Money, Saving Lives"

is the title of the brochure. Ah, I feel good already. So let's start reading.

Big Problem, Simple Solution

Oh, well good. Whatever this is should've been thought up a long time ago.

  • 1 in 4 Missourians smoke
Well. Ok. Kinda their business, in my book.

  • Missouri teen smoking rates are among the highest in the country
Wish that weren't true. But it is really none of my business as long as it isn't my kids.

  • Missouri is last in smoking cessation funding
Ah, I see ... more money will solve the problem.

  • Tobacco Settlement Money is not being used to support smoking cessation programs
You mean the government is collecting money and using it for things other than what it said it would use it for? Say it ain't so, Joe! Ah, there's a caveat down here. Annual audits to ensure that's what it's being spent on. Mmmm hmmmm. Pardon me if I'm skeptical -- not that it's the main point.

  • Each year, 17,000 more children become addicted to smoking in Missouri
Ah, "teenagers" wasn't good enough. They hadn't used the coup de gras, the word "children" yet. Brings to mind a bunch of 7 & 8 year olds puffin' in the alley behind the school. If you doubt that that is the intent, that's what the picture on the brochure depicts. Of course, I've seen the numbers for some of these studies. They get to define who "children" are. It's often anyone under 20. Or 21. Or whatever arbitrary line someone felt like drawing to puff (ooooooh) up the numbers.

  • Increases taxes 4 cents per cigarette. 20% on other tobacco products.
  • for every 10% increase in the cost of tobacco, 4% of adults and 7% of children quit.
So, we're increasing the cost of a pack of cigarettes by ... 16%... ish .... depending on the brand. And the cost of cigars and other tobacco products by 20% across the board. Wait, aren't cigarettes the main problem anyway? I don't see a lot of kids smoking pipes after school.

Anyway, so... Big Problem, Simple Solution.

Simple solution is: Give us more money, we'll fix it. Promise. But of course, the problem won't go away, so next year, give us MORE money and we'll fix it. And again, the problem won't go away. It's the perpetual problem, and all it takes is more money to "solve" it.

So, say 1 in 4 smoke. We're raising the tobacco tax by 16%. We get (according to these folks) a 4%-7% drop in smoking rates per 10% cost increase in tobacco. Let's make that 5% just for simplicity sake.

So next year, instead of 1 in 4 (25%), we can expect 25%-2.5% = 22.5%, or 1 in 4.4. We'll do it again in a couple of years, and it'll be 20.25%, or 1 in 5. and we'll keep doing it, because the problem is not gone.

Actually, if the solution is so simple, why not just increase the tax to $1 a cigarette right now? That should decrease adult smoking to ~3.3%. I mean, it's that simple, isn't it? That's what we're saying here. We're not going to make it illegal, we're just going to have the government stick it's fingers in the market to an outrageous extent. Whose interest does that serve?

(hint: it starts with a "G", ends in a "T", and has an "OVERNMEN" in the middle)

Here's the best part. At the end of their TV ads, they say "if you don't smoke, you don't pay" as a further way to "sell it" to .... non-smokers.

Ever hear of a tyranny of the majority?

No comments: