Sunday, May 27, 2012

Illinois House votes to increase cigarette tax

In an article from The Quad City Times

"Cigarette taxes would rise by $1 per pack on June 24 under legislation narrowly approved Friday in the Illinois House.

The measure, designed to help pay down some of the state’s rising Medicaid costs, was approved on a 60-52 vote. It moves to the Senate, where its fate remains uncertain."

Here's where I'll just chime in and get my opinion out of the way early...  while I can be a considered a non-smoking advocate, I find that increasing taxes on vice is ultimately a flawed method of generating revenue for any governmental entity.

It's a quick fix solution to a larger problem, like using a band-aid where stitches are clearly in order.  Or, since we're on the subject, if your house is on fire, would you use a bucket and pail still or that big ass hose over there?

Gov. Pat Quinn was quoted in a statement:

Today’s action will improve the health of our people and lower the burden of smoking-related conditions on our Medicaid system while helping to fill the $2.7 billion Medicaid shortfall and stabilize the system for those that need it.”

OK Pat, since smoking is such a burden on your Medicaid and if people quit smoking over the tax, you're drawing from a well that will dry up sooner rather than later.  This is a quick fix and brushing the problem under the mat with a "we'll worry about the real issues later" mentality.

Here's an idea, assuming you're actually raising the tax to appropriate it to Medicaid, why not pass a amendment where Medicaid benefits will be reduced or not paid at all if the patient is a habitual smoker?

Americans should have the right to smoke themselves to death if they want to and 100 years ago, when you got cancer, for what ever reason, the Government didn't bail you out.

Personally, the Government has no business telling me how I can ruin my life and consequently isn't obligated to help me out when I realized the err of my ways.

Harsh?  Yes.  Look, I understand the Hippocratic oath where a doctor pledges to not play God treat with care when it comes to matters of life and death.  I also understand the part that says, "I will prevent disease whenever I can, for prevention is preferable to cure."

So, if you're going to raise taxes on tobacco, allocate the funds to anti smoking campaigns and agencies designed to help people stop smoking.  Find a more long term solution to supplement Medicaid revenue.

These guys are short 2.7 BILLION dollars.  HOLY SMOKE (pun intended)!  Do you know how much money that is?  Really?  Imagine what you personally could do with 2.7 billion?  For example, a Honda Civic Hybrid is about 24,000.  That's 112,500 Civic Hybrids.  Chew on that fact for a second (another pun).  If a dollar was a mile, you could leave the solar system in 2.7 billion miles.  If a dollar was a year...  well, do that research on your own and make sure you're sitting down.

If you're thinking, well, what would you do Mr Smarty Pants, the answer is, I don't know.  I get it, it's complicated and I'm going to arm chair quarterback the whole deal.  Or maybe the answer will be in another blog...  what I'll tell you now is this, perhaps the entire Health Care system in America is flawed and needs a complete overhaul and taxing cigarettes and tobacco even further is just putting your finger in the dyke...