Time for Drastic “Anti-Smoking” Policies


by Jayne Frank

Of the several hundred articles written in Libertyssong Blog over the past couple of years, the one article receiving the most views, and I should say negative comments from smokers, is our previous article on whether smoking should really be considered a Right.  A few years later, my opinion that smoking is NOT a right is validated by the Centers for Disease Control, American Lung Association and our Government’s own current statistics.  This discussion is critically important today because the U.S. is broke and cuts must be made.

Here are the stunning statistics about the cost of smoking in the U.S.:

  1. $.25 of every health care dollar is used for illnesses related to smoking and other behavorial lifestyles, and practically NONE of those dollars are paid for by the person involved in such behavior, but are paid for by 1) increases in insurance premiums for the rest of society, b) disability costs and c) government expenditures for health care.
  2. There are 443,000 deaths (1 in 5) attributable to smoking each year.
  3. 49,400 deaths are attributable to second-hand smoke
  4. Smokers will die 14 years earlier than their non-smoking counterparts
  5. 8.6 million people live with chronic illness (and those costs are multiplying rapidly as life span increases).
  6. $96 billion is the staggering number spent on medical costs related to smoking.  Medical costs for smoking related illnesses have risen 8 times more than in 1980.
  7. $97 billion lost productivity costs to U.S. businesses each year

The argument you get from the liberal left in this country is exemplified by the following excerpt from an article by Santa Monica University:

“Clear as this reasoning seems, penalizing individuals for unhealthy behaviors could result in great injustice and social harm. While 18 percent of U.S. citizens with incomes above the poverty line smoke, for example, the figure almost doubles to 33 percent for those with incomes below the poverty line. A one-dollar cigarette tax would have a strongly regressive effect on the low incomes these individuals receive. Consider the added problem of tobacco addiction and the probable result of a tax is not less smoking or lower health care costs, but fewer dollars spent on nutritional food and other essentials – conceivably leading to more illness and higher health care costs.”

As a “middle class” citizen, taxpayer and a Conservative, this kind of rhetoric is deplorable and does nothing but  make people feel guilty who want to see our insurance and medical industry reformed because of those who smoke.  The costs and impact of smoking are staggering and quite frankly, I really don’t care if putting higher taxes on cigarettes will affect lower income people and I don’t care of they choose to buy a pack of cigarettes instead of taking care of themselves–choosing to smoke cigarettes instead of eating.  Shame on this kind of argument!

What I would like to see is a real economic punishment for those that choose to live an unhealthy lifestyle, in the form of higher insurance rates and lower benefits for unemployment and welfare if recipients continue to buy cigarettes.    Period.

Our Congress and the Obama Administration have started this class warfare argument and are currently targeting the very expenditures for which Government was instituted (our national security).  They are also mass targeting seniors for COLA and benefit cuts, even those who have never smoked and are attempting to live an active lifestyle.  The real argument to be made is whether seniors have to do without their prescriptions which they pay for because of rising insurance premiums which they also pay for.

It is high time our Representatives stand up and start addressing this epidemic in America, both for economic and health reasons.

Again, smoking is NOT a right.  It is costing this country immeasurably in human treasure and financially for our children and grandchildren.  Let us all take a stand for what is right for the country as a whole.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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