Don't like tobacco taxes? Grow your own
New Yorker combats rising 'sin taxes' by growing tobacco in her Brooklyn yard.
Sin taxes have always been a popular way to raise money.
They tend to adversely affect a relatively small group, which makes the legislators enacting the taxes, and the majority of folks who don't have to pay them, more comfortable.
They are usually presented as "it's for everyone's good" campaigns. The catastrophic results of the sin are emphasized and at least part of the new tax money is targeted to programs tied to the specific bad habit.
That's the case with cigarettes. When tobacco taxes are hiked, the health dangers to both smokers and breathing bystanders are regularly cited. And the tax money typically goes to fund some sort of health-related program.
In the short term, a tobacco tax hike can cause state revenue problems. The National Conference of State Legislatures says that such tax increases can result in stockpiling of cigarettes prior to the implementation of the tax, producing a temporary drop in sales immediately following the tax increase.
And at least one New York woman has gone beyond simply stockpiling cartons.
In Audrey Silk's backyard, along with the rose bushes, geraniums and impatiens, are 100 tobacco plants in gardening buckets. She dries the leaves in her Brooklyn home's basement.
Once the process is complete, Silk rolls and enjoys her tax-free homegrown cigarettes.
New York has the highest cigarette tax in the United States. But there are no federal, state or city laws prohibiting New Yorkers from growing tobacco at home for personal consumption, notes The New York Times.
Wanna bet lots of smokers now are looking into their state and local laws?
Silk buys tobacco seeds online for about $2. She expects her 2009 and 2010 crops to produce a total of 45 cartons and estimates that she will have saved more than $5,000.
"It'll make the antismokers apoplectic," Silk told the Times. "They’re using the power of taxation to coerce behavior. That's not what taxation is supposed to be for."
Taxes or personal policy?
Silk makes a good point. Tax policy is used at all levels to support some lifestyle choices and discourage others. The debate about whether that's the appropriate use of tax laws has been raging on since the first sin tax was created.
Even when I personally support a sin or other type of tax, I am disgusted by the self-righteousness of many pushing to not only collect revenue, but essentially punish via pocketbook the person who has the offending habit.
But despite the pompous rhetoric and personal predilections of politicians, in the end, it all comes down to how much money a government needs to operate and from which taxpayers the elected officials can most easily get the money.
By most easily, I mean not only the amount of money and the actual act of collecting the tax, but also which group of voters will be least likely to vote out the tax-enacting lawmakers.
It's that type of public policy making that prompted Silk, a retired police officer, to found the smokers' rights group New York City CLASH (Citizens Lobbying Against Smoker Harassment).
Up in tax smoke
How big is your state's tobacco tax? Since 2002, 47 states, the District of Columbia and several U.S. territories have increased their cigarette tax rates more than 100 times.
But if you live in the South, you're probably not paying that much per pack.
Data from the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids that the overall U.S. tobacco tax
average is $1.45 per pack. But the average tax in the country's major tobacco growing states is just 48.5 cents per pack.
If you prefer text, The Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids has the cigarette tax info in table format.
The cigarette tax rate map and table are likely to change as cash-strapped states look for ways to raise more money.
Right now, new California Gov. Jerry Brown is pushing his state's legislature to act by March 10 on a measure that would let voters in June decide whether to extend higher sales, income and vehicle tax rates.
The California proposal measure also would increase the Golden State's cigarette tax by $1 a pack. And yes, the money would go to cancer research and smoking prevention programs.
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Oh and nowadays everything is blamed on smoking, I wonder how come all these diseases and health problems existed prior to people using tobacco? Lets face ti the whole thing is about people control, it was a way the government could get something passed that gave them permission to control individuals and they are taking advantage of it.
"Silk buys tobacco seeds online for about $2. She expects her 2009 and 2010 crops to produce a total of 45 cartons and estimates that she will have saved more than $5,000"
Am I missing something here? She's going to get 45 cartons and save $5,000. Let's for easy math sake say she got 50 cartons. 50 cartons at $100 per carton is $5,000. Even in NY where I live, cartons don't sell for that much....
Greedy, grabby, grubby governments at all levels will use any excuse to extract wealth from the minority in any society by vilifying them in the State-run press, such as the United States has done.
"Sin Taxes" are a perfect example of 'mob rule' also known as 'democracy' where the parasites invent an excuse to extort wealth from 'value producers.' Another example of Liberalism run wild in this article.
Tobacco was a Cash Cow for this country before it even WAS a country. So, naturally, the Liberals must destroy it. Same with alcohol. Without taxes, I could drink all the alcohol I wanted for about $1 a gallon.
Don't forget to blame the Indians...oh, excuse me, Native Americans..oh wait, North American aboriginals--they introduced our European ancestors to tobacco (not to mention, hash, hemp, weed, et. al.) I guess it isn't PC to point out to the revisionists in the American Communist Party (Democrats) to speak of such things....Oh well. I'll enjoy seeing our former REPUBLIC unravel and leave the Liberal holding a certain body part below the waist in his hand when it finally happens....
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