Friday, September 15, 2006

Where there's smoke there's ire

Where there's smoke there's ire

Profoundly mixed feelings:

Culver accuses his Republican rival, Congressman Jim Nussle, of opposing a cigarette tax hike because Nussle has taken campaign contributions from the tobacco industry in the past. 'He has taken $70,000 in campaign contributions from Big Tobacco and it's no wonder,' Culver says.

I've been mashing this up with Johnson County's furtive move toward smoke-freeing the county buildings.

Is a tobacco tax a revenue source, a dterrent, or a "stupid fee"? Iowa Ennui presents the class argument:

Chet, what about your base? Sure, you need those country club soccer moms who don't buy smokes to be all about softer side issues and their kids, but you just sold out every working man & woman that can’t quit. It’s well documented that tobacco taxes are extraordinarily regressive; the habit can financially crush a low-income smoker. A few will find the costs prohibitive and quit, but the rest will keep using and fattening up the state’s coffers...

I'm not necessarily AGAINST tobacco taxes. What I AM against is hypocrisy and disingenuousness. Which means I may have chosen the wrong ball game when I got into politics.

I'm a non-smoker (I smoked the first month I quit drinking but realized in the nic o'tine, I mean nick of time, that I was trading one bad habit for another) but I'm not an ANTI-smoker. There's a big difference.

If you listen to an anti-smoker speak for more than about three sentences, you hear a sinister undertone to the earnest health arguments. I'm not denying their sincerity, but anti-smokers are truly contemptuous of people who smoke and find it impossible to hide their visceral disgust. Even if they are trying to understand the nature of addiction, they still react to it as a weakness rather than as an illness. The attitude seems to be "you smokers could just quit if you weren't... weren't... weren't Bad People!"

Maybe it's just my own experience with alcohol addiction, but I'd just like honest rhetoric: "Yes, we want to raise the tax three bucks a pack and put the smoking area four blocks down the street next to the sewage treatment plant - because we don't like other people's habits and we want to punish them for it."

What prohibitive tobacco taxes and increasingly isolated smoking areas are really about is socially stigmatizing smoking and, by extension, smokers. It reinforces the Smokers = Bad People subtext. That may be a public health positive, but it's rather dehumanizing.

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