Monday, October 30, 2006

California's Proposition 86

I smoked cigarettes for more than thirty years, Bush. How stupid is that? I smoked my first cigarette--a French Gauloise, if you can believe--at the age of thirteen, and continued to smoke stealthily, behind the bushes, in my boarding school years. I was caned for it once, by my "housemaster", a man nicknamed Tiger. Bend over. Six of the best. Didn't help. It eventually took me ten years to give up. I tried everything from arm patches to faux cigarettes to will-power. Nothing worked. I ended up regularly lying to my wife and trying to cover up the evidence with breath mints, sprays, deodorants... I'd buy a whole pack just to smoke a couple in the car, windows open, on the way to work. I finally managed to give up (age around 50, I'd guess) by giving myself permission to smoke. That took the negative part out of it, the "mustn't," "shouldn't,", "don't." It worked. For me. I know that others still fight that daily battle.

Anyway, I tell you all this, Bush, because I voted against the American Heart Association, the American Cancer Society, and countless other well-intentioned organizations on California's Proposition 86--the initiative that plans to raise the state tax on a pack of cigarettes from 87 cents to $3.47. (Oh, yes, Bush, I voted early, by mail--having changed my voter registration from the safe democratic district where we have voted for years in Los Angeles to the Republican stronghold that surrounds our beach cottage: I figured that Henry Waxman was safe without my support. Steve Young, our vigorous, articulate, and well-informed Democratic candidate in this area of Orange County, can use it.)

Oh, sure, I think it's wonderful to help people stop smoking, and I support efforts to keep second-hand smoke from polluting the public air. I just think tax legistlation is not a fair way to go about discouraging the habit.

Since large numbers of the holdout smokers are among our less wealthy and less well-educated citizens, this proposition amounts to nothing less than a tax on the poor. It's punitive. It's regressive. One argument has it that smokers place a disproportionate burden on society with their health care needs and the damage they cause by second-hand smoke. Which may be true--though to a far lesser extent, I've read, than the myth-makers would have us all believe. "Over the last 15 years," reads an opinion piece in last Saturday's Los Angeles Times, "evidence has accumulated showing smokers hardly cost society more than anyone else. Dozens of peer-reviwed studies through the 1990s... demonstrate conclusively that nearly all the costs of smoking--healthcare, higher insurance premiums, lower productivity at work--are borne by smokers themselves."

I'd love to see the end to this pernicious addiction, Bush. I hate to find myself on the side of "big tobacco." But this is no way to do it. It's simply unfair. The money will end up in the hands of casino owners and others who sell cigarettes legally without tax. And of smugglers and bootleggers, who will certainly find illegal ways to cater to the needs of those unfortunate addicts. I'd like to think that good sense will prevail in this case, bt I don't hold out much hope. It's so much easier to pass the tax burden on to someone else.


PK said...

Well Peter, this is my first year not to walk my path for two blocks to my polling place. I mailed mine in too. Hmmm, I voted for 86. I was thinking of the young people just coming into the smoking world, and myself, who needs to stop. And yes, at that price, it will stop me. It's a depressing thought right now, but I'll get over it. As is said, this too shall pass:). Better the cigarettes than me...:) I just hope I don't fall into the trap you talked about just to keep smoking. I've already gone through the patches, and trying to cover up that I smoked, but those that don't smoke can smell it on you anyway, so why bother. Well Peter, I wish us all the best this coming election. I had a big weight lifted when I mailed my vote in. I read today where they arrested quite a few people for changing Dems to Reps on some paperwork, so they got it on vote fraud. If convicted that will be quite a few years, hope they found what they did worth that. Have a peace filled Tuesday Peter...

Anonymous said...

Best to all who stop using tobacco.

However, I am afraid one has to hit rock bottom. I most likely could not have stopped chewing tobacco unless I replaced the activity with something else. I still use a non-tobacco product 1-2 times a day to give my mouth something to do; however, I have no desire for tobacco anymore and I will eventually stop using this crutch since chewing gum works just a well for me now. A lady next door to me is using clover cigarettes to try and stop smoking. I don't know, I think it takes severe emotional distress to stop, whether it is a health problem, anger at being controlled by a drug or corporations making a calculated profit off of your addiction(I looked up the pictures of the Board of Directors, President & CEO of the Coppenhagen Tobacco Co and said these pieces of **** are making money off me because I cannot control my behavior which is hurting me and doing me no good) or just unhappiness at not being able to control my behavior. The first 17 days were the hardest and then it took another month to develop a different habit. Anger & hate can be motivating factors if directed usefully. I really wish you the best and you know cigarettes are bad for you but as with anything else it takes internal action on your part and cannot be imposed from outside. When you are internally ready I would recommend maybe trying a product that has no nicotine like the clover cigarettes. And yes, I KNOW you are internally ready a few times each year to quit. However, I must disclose that I have only stopped for 18 months after 20 years of use. No desire what so ever at this point, so I think I may be OK. But those of us with an addictive personality must not let our guard down.

PK said...

Thanks for the hand on the shoulder, so to speak:). It's nice to know others support getting away from this smelly habit. And without condemnation..:D. I tried a clover one, can't say as I have ever been that Even Thunderbird didn't do me in that bad. Gave that stuff up too. Well, I have quit for a week, got anxious about something, and someone passed me a smoke, and I lit up. That was all it took to go back. So I know I can do it, it's just going to take a lot of carrots and celery to get through it;D. Again, thanks anon:).