In an earlier "What Really Grinds My Gears" I said I'd get to this later. It's later now.
You know what really grinds my gears? It's the cigarette taxes. Now for all you non-smokers out there who are thinking, "Tough shit. If you don't like it, stop smoking. You should stop smoking anyway because it's bad for you."
First of all, whether we smoke or not is none of your damn business unless we're blowing our second hand smoke in your face. As long as we're not around you, it's none of your business.
Secondly, taxes - no matter what is being taxed - should be a concern to everyone. One of the reasons for the constant increasing of tobacco tax is to make it so expensive that we'll have to quit because we won't be able to afford it. But here's the thing. Once they're through with tobacco they're going to come after some other unhealthy vice like junk food - or dare I say it - BEER. And Most Americans love their beer. How would you feel if they suddenly put a two dollar per 12 pack tax on beer - and kept increasing it every couple of years? You'd be pretty pissed off, wouldn't you? Well how do you think us smokers feel?
Here in California, a carton of Marboros costs about $95. Eighty percent of that is tax - including sales tax. To make matters worse, the sales tax is calculated AFTER the tobacco tax which means they are taxing tax. The U.S. Constitution forbids the taxing of tax.
I understand it costs $130 in New York State. Virginia is the cheapest at about $50 a carton. Northern states tend to be more expensive than southern states. Hawaii is also very expensive at about $80 a carton, but that's an island and on an island things not produced there tend to cost more because of shipping costs.
The Supreme Court has already ruled that excessive taxes are unconstitutional. That's rather vague, but I would say that an 80 percent tax is unreasonsable. The straw that broke the camel's back in sparking the Revolutionary War was The Stamp Act which basically imposed a 75 percent tax on goods.
Of course the government in the last few decades tends ignore the constitution whenever they think they can get away with it.
But anyway, allowing them to get away with this sets a legal precedent. What that can mean is when they do something similar in the future and someone challenges it in court, they can use a precendent to support their position.
Now only about one third of the adults in this country still smoke. But when you non-smokers say, "What do I care about the tobacco tax? I don't smoke." You may be setting yourselves up to get screwed in the future. Like I said, once they are through with tobacco, they may come after something YOU enjoy like junk food or beer (and other kinds of alcohol). They'll use some of the same tactics they used to get rid of tobacco, and if anyone challenges them in court, they'll use what they did with tobacco as a precendent and you will be behind the eight ball just like us smokers are now.
So think carefully before you say, "Aw, it doesn't effect me so why should I care?"
That's what really grinds my gears this week.
A little advice for smokers. Buy online. Find a company that is NOT in your state and there will be no tax. Pay attention to shipping charges. Some companies offer free shipping for $200 or more purchases. But if you buy them in the stores, one to four cartons (depending on your state) will cost that much anyway. Find such an out of state company that offers free shipping and chances are you will save a bundle - plus you get the satisfaction of gypping the state out of some taxes.
The average cost of Marboros online is $50 a carton. If you live in one of the more expensive states you'll save a bundle if you buy four at a time. I've been buying online since last December and I've saved a ton of money and have never had a problem with said companies.