Letter: Much more to cigarette tax story
I can’t say I disagree with the latest opinion piece regarding the cigarette tax. I do think, however, that the discussion is incomplete. I’ll readily admit up front that I’m no rehab expert as the gentleman who wrote in is. Even so, the fact of the matter is that there is much more to the story of circumventing abuse than pulling economic levers.
While hitting one’s pocketbook is often a great means of motivation, we can’t so readily forget that when greater motivations, i.e. harsh addictions, exist, they not only create economic instability but also generate actions that attempt to overcome that instability. A person may do whatever it takes to satisfy the economic requirements of their addiction. In steps crime.
As the prior piece mentioned, smoking and drug usage often go hand in hand https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/14512107. So those who have an addiction wreaking havoc on their lives, including their financial lives, will now have to pony up yet more money to keep their parallel addiction to cigarettes alive and well. The extra costs can cause feelings of further distress and economic insecurity that will only help to further dependency on their varied addictions. The vicious cycle may end up being furthered by the very law that is attempting to control it.
Finally, while lawmakers may be making a helpful ruling (for at least the above reasons it is still yet to be seen), we can’t forget that we still live in a world in which cigarettes are legal and marijuana is a Class 1 drug alongside heroine. Meth is a lower class of drug, according to the FDA. This is beyond insanity. It’s flat-out immoral.
Our government leaders have chosen to allow consumers to quite literally kill themselves with things such as cigarettes while one of the safest and most therapeutic substances naturally available to us is restricted in the severest of terms. We are told that we cannot do something with a naturally occurring plant, yet we are free to light up a cigarette full of carcinogens and harmful substances, so long as we put a few extra dollars in their pockets.
How might the heroine epidemic – alcoholism, cigarette usage and much more, too – recede if we were brave enough to actually promote and demand the American ideal of freedom rather than being content with it as a turn of phrase or mere concept? Our politicians may be doing something good with the cigarette tax, but at this point we can’t yet know. What can be known, however, is that they have much more yet to do and will only do so if we the people continue to push them toward it.
John Blythe, Fishers