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Saturday, April 13, 2013

Should We Just Make Smoking Illegal?

Should We Just Make Smoking Illegal?

A post for Cranky Opinion Saturday
President Obama a smoker 

President Obama just recommended a 97 cent per pack tax on cigarettes.  The money would fund a pre-kindergarten program.  Many families cannot afford pre-school for their children.  I guess that is bad.  My oldest brother graduated from Duke University with a degree in Physics, and retired from the USN as a Captain.  My other brother graduated from Harvard Law and recently retired as a Federal Magistrate Judge.  Neither of my brothers went to Pre-K, there is no telling how successful they might have been if they had.  I never went to Pre-K.  I graduated from Lafayette College and became…ok I might not be a good example.
Ronald Reagan a Smoker

Wait, the value of Pre-K is not today’s Cranky Saturday Opinion; the question is, is a higher cigarette tax a good idea?

Experts tell us every time there is a new tax on cigarettes people quit smoking, so it is for the good of society because smoking costs billions in health care.
FDR, JFK, Clinton, Ford...all smokers

Here comes my Cranky opinion

Look, if smoking is so expensive and damaging, and it is, don’t tax it, just make it illegal.  No one likes smokers anyway, so who cares.  We will be doing these environment polluting, uncaring, ignorant bastards a favor.  Just plow under the tobacco fields, stop importation at the borders, and put anyone caught smoking in jail!  Then take all that money we will save in health benefits and fund your pre-k program and end the national debt all in one fell swoop. 

LBJ a smoker

Actually here is my real opinion

The only problem I see with this plan is who are we left with in this country to hate?  It is politically incorrect to hate anyone in this country.  We can’t hate Jews.  We can’t hate people of color.  We can’t hate Catholics (well we can a little) and we certainly can’t hate gay people.  A country needs to hate someone so everyone else can feel really good about themselves.  Hell we can’t even hate Muslims.  We need smokers.  We need someone to hate.

If smoking was illegal we could no longer take our hands and wave away that second-hand smoke and yell, “Ooh a smoker!”  I would miss that.  It always makes me feel very superior. 
 Churchhill, a smoker

If smoking were illegal we could no longer stop those dirty people and explain to them childlike that the habit is bad for their health.

“Do you know that smoking is very bad for you?  You really should quit.”  I’d miss telling those dirty, selfish people that.  It makes me feel really special.

After forty years of being a dirty, filthy, inconsiderate bastard, I quit smoking two years ago.  If smoking were illegal it would not affect me, except that after all those years I finally have a group that I can hate…don’t take that away from me!
Einstein a smoker

Here comes my solution

Tax the bastards. Tax them just enough to make it painful but not enough to lose government revenues.  Make smokers wear a big red S on an arm band in order to buy their filthy product; that way closet smokers won’t get away without the public denigration that these horrible people deserve.  Keep smoking legal, make it painful, but don’t take away the only group in this country I am still able to hate.  I need my hate fix.  Sometimes I need to hate twenty times a day. 

I have a pack of hate a day habit.
God...a smoker?


The preceding opinion was that of a cranky old man and not necessarily that of management, Mrs. Cranky.


  1. All things being equal, it should be illegal. But the revenues smoking generates is huge and taking away an industry this size would put thousands of people out of work, not to mention the other financial repercussions.

  2. Making smoking illegal won't work any better than criminalizing pot. My problem with smokers is they get sick, go to the hospital, and I wind up paying their bill. (Have you ever noticed smokers are disproportionally poor?)

    So here's what you do: Put a hefty tax on tobacco products and use the revenues to fund "smoker's hospitals". Smokers get sick...the go to a traditional hospital where they're given a test at check in. If they're tobacco users, they are turned away and sent to one of the smoker's hospitals. There they will get as good a treatment as their tobacco tax can afford. Not my problem.

    Then they could smoke to their hearts content. (Pun intended.)


  3. My problem with smokers is they get to take smoke breaks.
    I can't complain because I smoked for a total of 51 years (yeah, I added them up).
    I figure I spent at least a year on smoke break.

    I also figured out that I haven't quit, yet.
    I've only stopped, but it's been almost five years.
    The first time I stopped it was for six years.
    When I'm dead you can say I quit.

  4. tax the hell out of cigarettes. legalize marijuana and tax the hell out of it even more! :)

  5. I wish they would just give a flat rate tax on income, across the board. Then they should have a consumption tax.

    If you don't smoke, you don't pay that tax. If you eat a lot of food, you pay a lot of taxes. If you use a lot of gas, you pay a lot of tax. If you can afford luxury items, the extra tax wouldn't burden you, would it? Likewise, if you consume 3 times as many calories as I do, it seems you have the money resource to pay the extra tax. Or, you could stop eating so much, which might help with the taxes you will end up paying for your health care.

  6. If making it illegal would truly make it go away, I'd vote for it, but that didn't work so well for prohibition and it wouldn't for tobacco either. I don't care what folks choose to do with their bodies, or their time, or their money, but I am seriously allergic to tobacco smoke, and it infuriates me that smokers rights to smoke so often interfere with my right to breathe. There is often an arrogance about smokers that I detest. Do it all you want, just don't do it where I have to breathe please, I kinda need to! The problem with raising taxes is that it just means more children will go without decent food so that mommy and daddy can barter the debit card in trade for more smokes. It is always the kids who suffer most.

  7. Love it. Brilliant post! I never thought about the fact that we need some group to hate and our options have all disappeared except for smokers and folks who spit on the floor. (is it still OK to hate them?)

    You never cease to amaze and amuse me, Joe. God bless.

  8. Just give me a heads up when they start hating and rounding up fat people. I'm slow and I'll need a good head start for the border.

  9. "My problem with smokers is they get sick, go to the hospital, and I wind up paying their bill. "

    And that's a perfect example of what the "hate" leads to. People simply accept all sorts of nonsense about smoking and smokers because they hear it repeated so often they assume it must be correct. That's how we end up with people worrying about wisps of secondhand smoke or (heaven forfend!) deadly poisonous THIRDhand smoke.


    In terms of the quote above, smokers more than pay their own health costs and even end up subsidizing the health care of NONsmokers. If everyone stopped smoking today, nonsmokers would end up having to pay something on the order of $300 Billion dollars per year extra in their income taxes.

    See my "Taxes, Costs, and the MSA" at: for a fully referenced analysis. And then bear in mind just how enormously cigarette and tobacco taxes have risen since that piece was written.

    Michael J. McFadden
    Author of "Dissecting Antismokers' Brains"

    1. You seem to disagree with my position, but you offer nothing to support yours. If my position is wrong, why are many companies charging their employees MORE for health insurance? Apparently the smokers were NOT paying their own way. Counterpoint?

  10. Let me just finish this cigarette & we can go out for a drink!!

  11. If you made smoking illegal, Hubby and I would miss that smug feeling of knowing just how much money we saved by choosing to not smoke each year.

    Plus, I consider the graphic medical pictures on a pack of cigarettes an excellent way to increase the countries understanding of our own bodies. Though it would be nice if they did some "Before/After" shots, so high schoolers don't end up thinking all out internal organs are blackened and mis-shaped.

  12. Sorry to burst your bubble, Cranky, but your ideas are not new and contrary to what many Americans believe, America doesn't always lead the world with innovation. When I was a kid, a pack of ciggies was 25c in this country. Taxes have now pushed them up to $25. Smoking is banned in bars, restaurants, public buildings and parks. Soon it will be banned in all public places, including outdoors. The result? Smoking is in decline. Our government has set a target of a smokefree country by 2025. Oh, and who to hate when that happens? My theory is that hate begins at home, and haters don't like themselves very much.

  13. Lowandslow, you wrote, "You seem to disagree with my position, but you offer nothing to support yours"

    Low, didn't you read the "Taxes, Costs, and the MSA" essay I wrote? It outlines in detail what's wrong with the "Smokers cost us money" position, complete with about a half different specific references to articles/publications in medical journals and govt. documents. How can you possibly call that "nothing"???

    Re health insurance charges by companies:

    1) They're treating the employees like rats: behavioral conditioning. The price hikes are like little electric shocks to condition the rats to the desired path of behavior. Companies prefer nonsmokers because, in the short term, their health costs are lower, plus they think they're less likely to take as much break time once the company forces their smoking workers outside. Plus the companies save money on air-conditioning/heating since they can reduce ventilation. The employees breathe in more pathogens and invisible poisons, but there's very little money, comparatively, to study those costs. "Tobacco Control" has been getting $500 Million to $900 Million EVERY YEAR to push their agenda... and that's just from the MSA payments.

    - MJM

  14. It's an interesting question, that's for sure. I'm not a smoker, so it wouldn't affect me either, so maybe the taxing thing is the right way to go. If their goal is to stop smokers though it won't work. We had something similar here with alcohol, and it turned out that taxing makes no difference, they'll pay regardless.

  15. Kellie, you are quite wrong when you say "If their goal is to stop smokers it won't work". Here in NZ there is a program of yearly substantial increases in duty on tobacco. Every time the price goes up, more people quit. Of course there are those who'll pay regardless, but the total number of smokers is in decline, which means some of those who smoked on regardless of the second to last increase finally got the message and quit with the last one. More will quit with the next and there'll be less and less pressure on the health budget, increased productivity in the workplace and a decline in human suffering due to illness and premature death.

  16. my husband just finished ( literally 2 hrs ago at dinner) indoctrinating his Catholic offspring by informing them why we cannot tax cigarettes toooo much..because the government makes $ on all those taxes, so if the government taxes too much and people quit buying cigs the government won't get as much revenue to continue to poorly manage the country, those Catholic kids just listen to whatever their Dad says and they believe it.

  17. People hate Catholics? Really? I didn't know that. But back to know when I was a kid, I used to make ashtrays at school as a project in art class. Then I'd bring them home for my parents and they would put them on the coffee table and use them. Both my parents were smokers, their friends, my grandparents. When my mom would get on the phone with one of her long, long talks with her girl friends, she would snap her fingers at me and my sister and mouth the words, "Go get my cigarettes" because the phone was attached to the wall and she couldn't get them herself. Smoking was such a normal thing when I was young. But today? My kids don't even know what an ashtray is. When they see someone smoking they are shocked. "Mom! He's smoking!" they say, and they stare as if it's something criminal they are viewing. I think smoking must be on the decline if kids these days don't even know what an ashtray is. Well, maybe it's just my kids?

  18. If you need someone to hate Joe then just start hating:
    Advertising Agents
    ...Isn't that enough to be going on with? If you run out of subjects I'm sure there are a few left at Wall St. you can hate >;)


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