The Independent Student Newspaper of St. John's University

The Torch

The Independent Student Newspaper of St. John's University

The Torch

The Independent Student Newspaper of St. John's University

The Torch

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Smoking Taxes More Than Your Health

“It’s easy to quit smoking. I’ve done it hundreds of times.”

Recent cigarette tax hikes may give many people the incentive they need to finally and successfully kick the habit. But I doubt it.

The only thing I knew before I did a little research was that cigarettes had gotten more expensive. The actual numbers surprised me.

Last April, New York state raised its tax on every pack of cigarettes, already the highest in the nation from $1.11 to $1.50. Then, effective in July, the city tax went from 8 cents to $1.50 per pack, an increase of nearly 1,900 percent. This brought the total tax to $3 a pack, which now costs around $7.50.

This means there is an astounding $30 tax on a normal ten-pack carton. Mayor Bloomberg said that one of the goals of the tax is to get people to quit smoking, and already cigarette sales in the city have plummeted. But does that mean people are smoking less? A walk around campus or a trip to a local bar shows otherwise.

Personally, I think cigarettes are disgusting.. I grew up in a smoking household that had ashtrays in every bedroom and the laundry room. I thought my clothes smelled weird the first time I did my own laundry at school, and it was because they were actually clean. I have been inhaling second-hand smoke since I was negative nine months old.

Smoking may be one of the few things in life that has absolutely no positive aspects. It causes cancer and emphysema, makes you smell, yellows your teeth, and most of the time just looks plain gross. And I am sure I do not have to tell anyone how wonderful it is to kiss someone who has just finished a cigarette.

It is important for me to mention here that I smoke occasionally. So in a sense I understand the arguments of both sides. I don’t know why I started, and hopefully I’ll stop soon. However, I have never had a sober craving for a cigarette, and I am never sober when I buy them. Like that makes it better.

If St. John’s-where students, faculty, administrators, and public safety can constantly be seen taking a cigarette break outside any building on campus – can be viewed as a microcosm of the country, it is easy to tell that while the price keeps rising, there is still exists a “healthy” market for cigarette companies.

The cigarette tax is regressive for many reasons. First, it takes money out of the government’s hand, since the reduced sales generate less tax money. Taxpayers who purchase cigarettes are encouraged to go elsewhere for them, whether it be to a less taxed state, an Indian reservation or even online.

Cigarette smugglers (they really do exist outside of prison movies) make a huge profit as the black market demand skyrockets, which increases crime, and those who do buy cigarettes in the city pay dearly for them.

It almost seems like they should be worth their weight in gold. At least that is what I think every time I wake up in the morning with an empty wallet and a pack of Parliament Lights sitting on my desk. But then again, I was not in a mental state where saving money (or my lungs, apparently) was a top priority.

If someone really wants to quit smoking, they will go through what it takes to quit. When I had my wisdom teeth taken out, I took Vicodin for a week. After my prescription was finished, I couldn’t sleep, was irritable, and had creepy dreams. I had developed a dependence on it, but I didn’t run out to get more. The problem with cigarettes is that they are practically everywhere, and regression is just a puff away. All smokers know they should quit, but once they start, they honestly do not want to. My parents used to spend over $50 a week for three cartons of cigarettes before they cut down, and higher taxes will not stop them from buying. Now they’ll just complain more as they fork over their cash.

There are a million better reasons to stop smoking than over money. And if you are not going to quit for any of those, what’s a few more dollars?

If Mayor Bloomberg thinks higher taxes will reduce the number of smokers, maybe he should take a trip over to Gantry’s on a Friday night. I’ll be there, waiting for him with a pack of Parliament Lights in my pocket.

“It’s easy to quit smoking. I’ve done it hundreds of times.”

Recent cigarette tax hikes may give many people the incentive they need to finally and successfully kick the habit. But I doubt it.

The only thing I knew before I did a little research was that cigarettes had gotten more expensive. The actual numbers surprised me.

Last April, New York state raised its tax on every pack of cigarettes, already the highest in the nation from $1.11 to $1.50. Then, effective in July, the city tax went from 8 cents to $1.50 per pack, an increase of nearly 1,900 percent. This brought the total tax to $3 a pack, which now costs around $7.50.

This means there is an astounding $30 tax on a normal ten-pack carton. Mayor Bloomberg said that one of the goals of the tax is to get people to quit smoking, and already cigarette sales in the city have plummeted. But does that mean people are smoking less? A walk around campus or a trip to a local bar shows otherwise.

Personally, I think cigarettes are disgusting.. I grew up in a smoking household that had ashtrays in every bedroom and the laundry room. I thought my clothes smelled weird the first time I did my own laundry at school, and it was because they were actually clean. I have been inhaling second-hand smoke since I was negative nine months old.

Smoking may be one of the few things in life that has absolutely no positive aspects. It causes cancer and emphysema, makes you smell, yellows your teeth, and most of the time just looks plain gross. And I am sure I do not have to tell anyone how wonderful it is to kiss someone who has just finished a cigarette.

It is important for me to mention here that I smoke occasionally. So in a sense I understand the arguments of both sides. I don’t know why I started, and hopefully I’ll stop soon. However, I have never had a sober craving for a cigarette, and I am never sober when I buy them. Like that makes it better.

If St. John’s-where students, faculty, administrators, and public safety can constantly be seen taking a cigarette break outside any building on campus – can be viewed as a microcosm of the country, it is easy to tell that while the price keeps rising, there is still exists a “healthy” market for cigarette companies.

The cigarette tax is regressive for many reasons. First, it takes money out of the government’s hand, since the reduced sales generate less tax money. Taxpayers who purchase cigarettes are encouraged to go elsewhere for them, whether it be to a less taxed state, an Indian reservation or even online.

Cigarette smugglers (they really do exist outside of prison movies) make a huge profit as the black market demand skyrockets, which increases crime, and those who do buy cigarettes in the city pay dearly for them.

It almost seems like they should be worth their weight in gold. At least that is what I think every time I wake up in the morning with an empty wallet and a pack of Parliament Lights sitting on my desk. But then again, I was not in a mental state where saving money (or my lungs, apparently) was a top priority.

If someone really wants to quit smoking, they will go through what it takes to quit. When I had my wisdom teeth taken out, I took Vicodin for a week. After my prescription was finished, I couldn’t sleep, was irritable, and had creepy dreams. I had developed a dependence on it, but I didn’t run out to get more. The problem with cigarettes is that they are practically everywhere, and regression is just a puff away. All smokers know they should quit, but once they start, they honestly do not want to. My pare
nts used to spend over $50 a week for three cartons of cigarettes before they cut down, and higher taxes will not stop them from buying. Now they’ll just complain more as they fork over their cash.

There are a million better reasons to stop smoking than over money. And if you are not going to quit for any of those, what’s a few more dollars?

If Mayor Bloomberg thinks higher taxes will reduce the number of smokers, maybe he should take a trip over to Gantry’s on a Friday night. I’ll be there, waiting for him with a pack of Parliament Lights in my pocket.

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