Tax to Save

Dear Governor Crist:

I know you have built your career opposing tax increases, so I particularly want to thank you for raising the taxes on cigarettes to help balance the Florida budget and pay off the looming deficit. Goodness knows we can use all the help we can get. You had good company. Every Republican in the state Senate voted for it, their statewide political aspirations and “no new taxes” pledges notwithstanding.

On Wednesday, the cigarette tax here in Florida will quadruple, rising a dollar to $1.34 per pack. That pack of smokes will now cost at least $5.

“I view it more as a health issue than a tax issue,” Governor Crist (R-FL) said in the Orlando Sentinel. “Ronald Reagan used to say if you want to kill something, tax it. It wouldn’t be bad if we killed smoking. It would save a lot of lives.”

As of July 1, Florida’s new cigarette tax is $1.34 per pack. Florida’s cigarette tax has remained unchanged for decades. The increase means this state leaps from fourth-lowest in the nation to bumping out Pennsylvania for twentieth spot. The legislature expects that extra $1 tax to generate more than $900 million a year.

Five bucks a day, up in smoke.

Governor, your keen action has had the beneficial side effect you wanted. My next door neighbor, Henryk, has bought his last carton of cigarettes. “I’m too cheap to pay $50 a carton,” Henk said. “I just won’t pay it.”

Now, really, Henk isn’t nearly as cheap as I am. I quit in 1976 when the nation celebrated the bicentennial and cigarettes jumped to fifty cent a pack. That wasn’t for the (w)rapper. That wasn’t for the excise tax. That was the price. Imagine paying FIVE DOLLARS for a carton of the little cigars I preferred. I’m not sorry I quit. Even starting with the now infinitesimal price I paid a third of a century ago, I figure I have saved more than $30,000 dollars or the price of a couple of small cars.

Henk says he’s done with tobacco.

He’s going back to pot.

It’s cheaper.

2 thoughts on “Tax to Save

  1. FWIW, Florida does not want to make tobacco illegal — everyone remembers what happened during the Noble Experiment (Prohibition), the national ban on the sale, manufacture, and transportation of alcohol from 1919 to 1933. But the ever-higher sin tax may work to create a smoke-free Florida. After all, studies show that the rate of smoking goes down as the cost of smoking goes up.

    Prolly the same argument about gasoline going on inside the Beltway right now.

  2. I quit smoking when my high school girlfriend told me I should be pulling the smoke down into my lungs, and I tried it. I coughed for a coupla days and told everyone I had a bad cold. Back then smokes were about twenty cents a pack and we tore off the white thing and lit the ragged end.

    My departed father-in-law quit smoking because of doctor’s orders. He started dipping snuff instead and tripled his intake of nicotine; and when he had his heart attack no one would give him mouth-to-mouth for the obvious reason.

    Cassius Clay told us that every action generates an equal and opposite reaction, and when many people end a vice they replace it with another — like your friend Henk. Me, I never smoked pot for the same reason that I stopped smoking tobacco, and I never used any other drugs. So, when I wanted to start drinking alcohol, I was up a creek with no vice to give up. Fortunately, Mrs Poleczech told me I cussed too much, so I stopped and have been drunk ever since.

    In my opinion — regardless of whether a person smokes or not — $5 a pack is too much.

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