6,000% Sin Tax on Cigars?!

As I was wondering the streets of NYC yesterday, smoking a Padron Anniversary 1964 Principe (4.5 x 46), I realized how difficult it is to enjoy a cigar on the streets. I mean, there really is a limited number of cigar bars (2 that I know of) in NYC. I’m kinda lucky that my partner is ok with me smoking in the apartment (she enjoys some cigarillos herself from time-to-time) but it is frustrating in that I cannot enjoy them really anywhere else. As I’ve said, I understand and respect the laws and the rights of non-smokers. I don’t deny that but at least leave me some right somewhere to enjoy a smoke now and then — other than the streets.

And even in the street, it’s hard to smoke without someone complaining (NYC can be very windy and sometimes it’s hard to control where the smoke drifts). There is a group trying to lobby for cigar smokers — Cigar Rights of America — and reading some of the things that non-smokers are pushing (e.g., removing the right to smoke in cigar shops) makes me want to support this more and more. What interested me the most was the fact that SCHIP, a plan to help families that earn too much to qualify for Medicaid but not enough to cover their own expenses, wants to tax cigars a whopping 6000% (!!!) but cigarettes only $0.61. Uh.. HUH?! Cigars are known to cause less harm than cigarettes (I’m not foolish enough to believe that they cause no harm) and are often smoked less than cigarettes. I don’t get the logic behind it.

Well, actually I can. The logic is this: cigarettes are made, often, with US tobacco. That tobacco ain’t great for cigars, which are often imports from other countries. It’s a form of protectionism for tobacco farmers in the guise of health care. You really want to provide good health care and have decent funding? Tax corporations like McDonalds, Burger King, General Mills, et al. for providing a diet that is heavily processed and makes some parents believe that it’s good for their kids at a cheaper price. Provide healthy breakfast and lunch — fruit, oatmeal, non-processed — to kids that is also free of GMO and hormones. Get kids active.

Yes, a certain amount of tax on cigars and cigarettes makes sense (most sin taxes would be in place for the harm they cause and the impact on society they make) but let’s make it make sense. I know when we have kids, there’ll be a room that will be my smokers’ room and it’ll have some pretty nifty air-purifying equipment in it besides an open window. And I’ll teach my kids about the both the good and bad of cigars and let them make the decision either way. They won’t be viewed as being horrible or bad for their choices but rather make me proud that they can have the choice.

Isn’t that what freedom is supposed to be about?

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