Newpaper story about "Saving lives by lowering tobacco use act"
I went looking today for information regarding whether higher taxes lower the smoking prevelance. The Antis also claim that smoking bans are a big factor in lowering smoking prevalence. It ain't necessarily so. I found this very informative page: Smokefree Women: Smoking in Your State: Data View
A state that’s doing everything "right" is New York. The state has the highest per-pack price for cigarettes at $8.97 and has all three types of smoking ban: work, bar, and restaurant. Yet, New York ranks 25th (in the middle of the pack) for smoking prevalence at 17.9%. Texas has an identical smoking prevalence rate at 17.9%, but has none of the three bans and a pack of cigarette costs $5.47. Georgia has an even lower prevalence rate at 17.6%, has none of the three bans, and a pack costs $4.44.
At a 19% prevalence rate, Virginia is below the national average of 19.3%, but the price for a pack is only $4.44. The information is only partly correct concerning the bans. Virignia does have bans on smoking in all three venues, but--probably because it allows a few exemptions here and there--the word "no" was entered for all three. All restaurants are pretty much smoke-free, but some bars are permitted to allow smoking if they have a specially constructed room that keep the smoke out of the rest of the place. An enterprising Virginian started a web site to provide information to smokers on where they can go to light up: Smokefreelyva.com Home This is a clever site name, in view of the fact that "smokefreeva" is the state health department's antismokng web site.
Utah has the absolute lowest prevalence rate at 9.8%, and has all the bans, but does not have that high (relatively speaking) a tax rate, with a pack costing $5.70. Is it possible that the prevailing religious beliefs have a lot more to do with the low smoking rates than any of the other measures? We also see a fairly low (16.3%) prevalence in Idaho, but it doesn't have a work ban or a bar ban, and a pack of smokes is a thrifty $4.53. Idaho also has a large Mormon population which I believe is the biggest factor in its lower smoking rates.
I'm not providing this information because I am pro-smoking. I'd like to help as many people as possible who still smoke to switch to safer alterantive. I believe that this would be a more productive route for government to follow as well. The taxation thing has gotten way out of hand. The oppressive tax rates are creating a huge black market and imposing financial hardships on the poorest members of our society.
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