Friday, May 09, 2008

Snuffing out progress

Greenville News: Gov. Sanford threatens to veto cigarette tax increase.


Rob W. said...

Awesome picture, even if I entirely disagree that Sanford is snuffing out progress.

If passing the tax is intended to raise money, there are much better ways to do this. Cigarette taxes are some of the more regressive taxes out there, since people of lower income levels buy more cigarettes (proportionally, of course) and so will pay a larger share of the tax increase.

The other reason for the tax, saving the government money by lowering smoking rates, is ineffective. Smokers actually cost the government slightly less than nonsmokers, on average, because even though you have to pay for more cancer/lung treatments, they die sooner, freeing up health funds (not to mention pension funds) for us long-lived nonsmokers. Here's a 1997 study about this in the New England Journal of Medicine:

Full disclosure: I'm a poor chemistry student who has absolutely no ties to the tobacco lobby, but I did enjoy the movie "Thank You for Smoking"

Anonymous said...

Sanford is creepy.

The Blue South said...

I tend to agree that the cigarette tax does not make sense from a social-policy-meets-tax-policy perspective. The addictive qualities of nicotine tend to outweigh economic concerns for many smokers, so the whole "raising the tax will force people to quit" argument is unconvincing. Rob W. is also right that a cigarette tax is particularly regressive (sort of like the "education" lottery, or "voluntary tax" as it is known by those who administer it).

However, it is worth noting that SC has one of the lowest (if not the lowest) cigarette taxes in the nation. So if progress means keeping up with the nextdoor neighbors, well, maybe Sanford is standing in the way.

The thing that gets me about Sanford's vetos is, if you ever read his reasoning for vetoing a particular bill, you'll see a trend of justification by principle- that is, Sanford takes a minority view of the powers of government and uses the principles derived therefrom to justify vetoing legislation that has gained support, often enough support to override his veto, in our democratically-elected legislature.

Anonymous said...

I gotta say that is the least favorable picture of Jenny Sanford that I have ever seen.