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Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Tell the Merchants of Death what you think

I don't care how you might feel about sin taxes. You need to vote yes on Measure 50 and send a message to these sick, sick people.

Comments (27)

And what message would that be??? I don't smoke so it won't affect me, but I really don't understand your abhorrence to the fact that the industry is spending money against the measure. I don't like the legislature shoving taxes down our throats in this manner. I don't like the fact that when and as there are less smokers that the 'tax' will end up having to be shifted - which means it will hit me. I don't like that the 'tax' won't be ONLY for children's health care. If you want to tax me for a reason let's keep it for just THAT reason and no other. Overall, I didn't like the legislature and I didn't like the way they did things. I'll be voting no on both measures referred by the legislature.

I'm with Native Oregonian on both measures 49 and 50: I vote no!
I'll have more to say on my blog.

How about "start paying for your victims' health care yourselves then" as the message?

Bottom line is that cigarettes are a vast scheme for private profit at public expense; the health consequences are more expensive to the public till than the Measure 50 tax (and all other taxes) recover.

If you don't want the state stepping in and trying to get the money from those imposing these costs on others, then Big Tobacco should carry them. Put a sticker in every pack that people can collect and use as an insurance voucher when they get any of dozens of cancers prompted by smoking (including bladder, did you know that?), heart disease, emphysema, COPD, etc., they can show their little stickers as an insurance card and Big Tobacco will pick up their treatment costs.

Um, thought not. OK, I'm voting for Measure 50.

George, No, I like your idea:
"Put a sticker in every pack that people can collect and use as an insurance voucher when they get any of dozens of cancers prompted by smoking (including bladder, did you know that?), heart disease, emphysema, COPD, etc., they can show their little stickers as an insurance card and Big Tobacco will pick up their treatment costs."

Yes I did know that. Dad got bladder cancer and he smoked. Luckily the Docs got it in time and Dad will be 87 in December.

Since I make $25,000 a year, smoke and don't have kids, I get to subsidize someone that makes almost three times as much as I do. They can drop the coverage they may be purchasing already and have more of their income to spend. Can I help you buy a new car too? How about pay your mortgage? After all I do smoke so I must deserve to get sh*t on.

"start paying for your victims' health care yourselves then"

Sounds good. Im not sure where M50 comes in though...I thought it was to pay for health coverage for uninsured children?

If it was just to pay for health coverage for people who smoke, that would be different. Or hell, even if it taxed all of us, I would be more willing to vote yes. But going after one group to pay for another group is dumb.

And the whole "amending the Constitution" thing bothers me too.

My vote is NO.

It is nice to hear the commenters here are willing to pay additional taxes to cover medical insurance for children. If that feeling was passed along to elected officials during the session, we wouldn't have to listen to the steaming piles from big tobacco regarding M50.

It might be helpful to preview the information that's going to be in the Voter's Pamphlet. Some excerpts:

This measure increases state revenue by an estimated $152.7 million for the 2007-2009 budget period. Revenue is estimated to increase $233.2 million in the following two-year period. These estimates account for a projected decline in the sale of tobacco products because of higher prices. These estimates would be reduced if further restrictions on smoking become law. The additional state revenue generated by this measure would be available to allocate to programs that provide health care for children, low-income adults and other medically vulnerable Oregonians, and to tobacco prevention programs.
But how is the revenue allocated to those different goals? Well:
If the measure passes, it will be implemented by Senate Bill 3, which the legislature passed earlier this year. That legislation:
1. Creates the Healthy Kids Program, which is designed to provide affordable health care to uninsured children in Oregon. The Healthy Kids Program expands eligibility for existing health insurance programs, streamlines and simplifies application procedures and creates a new children’s health care pool to lower health care costs.
2. Provides affordable health care for 10,000 low-income adults through the Oregon Health Plan.
3. Expands funding for rural health care and safety net clinics.
4. Expands funding of Oregon’s Tobacco Use Reduction Account.
Under Senate Bill 3, approximately 70 percent of the new tobacco tax revenue through 2011 would be allocated to the Healthy Kids Program; approximately 18 percent would be allocated to health care for low-income adults; approximately 4 percent would be allocated to rural health services and safety net clinics; and approximately 8 percent would be allocated to tobacco prevention.
If this measure fails, the Healthy Kids Program and other health care expansions in Senate Bill 3 will not become law.
For yet more specifics, see the text of Senate Bill 3 of 2007.

So now we have the same facts to work from.

As I see it, 100% of the revenue is going to health care* - although only 70% directly to kids - and the expected revenue decline as a result of lower smoking rates is taken into account. (Much of the other 30% will be indirectly helpful to kids, too, but we can save that argument for another day.) This knocks down - if not quite out - a couple of the arguments I've seen against the measure.

[*: Yes, I'm counting smoking prevention efforts as health care. I think the science backs me up on that, but nitpick away if you like.]

Why on earth should we amend our Constitution to tax any single private product? Why does it have to be an amendment to the Constitution? Its insane. Why not amend the Constitution to tax burgers and fries or beer or any other product deemed unhealthy to the public? Vote NO on this nanny state nonsense.

"Since I make $25,000 a year, smoke and don't have kids, I get to subsidize someone that makes almost three times as much as I do. They can drop the coverage they may be purchasing already and have more of their income to spend."

This might make some kind of sense if it were possible for a person making three times as much as you - $75,000 - to enroll in the OHP. I don't believe that's possible without some absolutely extraordinary special healthcare needs.

Yeah, another new entitlement program! How could anyone be against giving someone else's money to the poor kids? Come on, lets all stick to the smokers. When they run out of money we can stick the fat people with a poundage tax. What we really need is a lawyer tax. Even better would be a tax lawyer tax. Come on Jack, empty your pockets, it is for the poor kids.

The Paternalistic Parasite of Oregon is perfectly free to devote general tax revenues to the purposes set forth in the proposition without any enactment whatsoever.

The sums to be diverted by such a 'sin tax' is a miniscule amount compared to the harm caused by the product.

The primary objection of the tobacco companies is that it will have an effect on their profits since raising the price of an addictive substance enhances profits only if that price increase goes to the drug seller.

The primary objection of the electorate seems to be that once again someone is trying to tell them what to do based on someone else's opinion of what would be "good for them".

"Why on earth should we amend our Constitution to [______]"

Fill in the blank. I've thought that dozens of times since I came of voting age, and people kept cramming junk in there anyway. Just look at the cruft in there:

Article IX Section 8. Stationery for use of state. All stationary [sic] required for the use of the State shall be furnished by the lowest responsible bidder, under such regulations as may be prescribed by law. But no State Officer, or member of the Legislative Assembly shall be interested in any bid, or contract for furnishing such stationery.

So while I agree that - in principle - the Constitution should be a pretty static foundational document, it appears the reality is that we've over the years crammed so much administriva in there that it's now just a living body of law that's a bit harder to change than normal law. One more bit won't make it any better, but neither will it make the situation significantly worse.

The message I'd like to send is, "Can't buy my vote."

I'm not voting for a loony larry lightbulb measure that creates a program funded by taxes on a product that kills its users.

Smokers die or quit, less tobacco products are purchased, less tax revenue comes in, but the "children's health care" program is still in place and still needs funding.

The legislature should have had the cojones to pass a "children's health care" bill, with funding straight out of the existing revenue stream. It's where this program will end up anyway after all the smokers quit or die off.

Lets tax wine to pay for kid's health care. Then we will really see how dedicated the progressives are. But we cant have any of that "evil wine grower" money involved.

Jack, you certainly know how to bring out the moonbats! Listen up, moonbats: (a) Our constitution is itself a steaming pile of excrement, much of which the result of you and your kind adding things to it that have no business being there -- like the supermajority requirement for the legislature to pass a tax. (b) Thanks to anti-tax sentiments of the rich and selfish in our state, it is not possible to enact a tax on the public at large, so the only option is to tax others who lack political clout, like smokers and tourists. (c) The whole children's health care problem is a direct consequence of our nation's medieval approach to health care generally (let a few people make a bundle off the suffering of the sick, the injured, and the worried well). We're left with a bag of unpalatable choices, the least unpalatable of which seems to be to pass this tax amendment and let the tobacco interests squander their money. Those of you who vote against the measure will have the satisfaction of denying deserving recipients of health care while giving Philip Morris a nice return on its investment.

Allen, don't you think we should tax something that actually has a measurable detrimental effect on children's health. After all, few children actually smoke and most smoking is now relegated to bars they can't enter.

What we need to do is amend our Constitution to include a 'Twinkie Tax'.

$6.8 million seems like a lot for those "I'm not going to let them amend the constitution!!!" commercials.

Then again, Big Tobacco has money to burn. Just last week I bought a pack of cigs at the local Plaid Pantry. There was a young lady sitting on a milk crate reading a People magazine in front of the register. Strange, I thought, but whatever.

So I ask the attendant behind the counter for a pack of Camel Ultralights. The ears of the girl sitting on the milk crate perk up. Turns out she works for RJR. She stands and tells me that if I let her scan my drivers licenses, I'll get a free pack of Camels and a Zippo style lighter. It takes me about a month and a half to smoke one pack of cigarettes and I've got plenty of lighters, so I declined. I'm guessing they're giving away free product and swag in return for scanning your ID in hopes of send campaign materials to your house.

"[...] don't you think we should tax something that actually has a measurable detrimental effect on children's health. After all, few children actually smoke and most smoking is now relegated to bars they can't enter."

Secondhand smoke from in-home smoking has a measurable detrimental effect on children's health.

Really? What's the measurement?

Besides, taxing those children's parents more for their cigs will just make it so they can't afford to buy them that healthy but expensive organic food at New Season's....

Butch, you'll always have an excuse to oppose a tax. This one's good enough for the purpose.

Not true Allen.....I'd support a sales tax if it was not imposed as an amendment to our Constitution.

I was hoping that someone involved with the measure would comment, but ... as I recall, the reason it's a constitutional referral is because Big Tobacco had enough Republican votes in the legislature to block a tax increase in a piece of legislation (thanks to a relatively-new constitutional amendment that requires super-majority for legislative tax increases). But since it only takes a majority to refer a constitutional amendment, that's how it was done. And Big Tobacco's advertising pitch now? -- "ooh, yuck, a constitutional amendment." I'm not enamored of this tax, because the statistics suggest that it is very regressive, but with Big Tobacco out there, how could you vote no?

I'll admit that I'm a right wing troglodyte, but I'm also a non-smoker, so I've no dog in the fight, except this:

If the Legislature can't pass a tax with 60% of the vote, maybe that's a sign that there's no consensus on the issue. Make the damn monkeys down in Salem DO THEIR JOBS and make the hard choices. If they don't punish them at the ballot box. If you can't, chances are your side doesn't deserve to win.

60% is not an unattainable level of support to ask for to create yet another form of perpetual coercion. Taxes should be a little harder to establish than approving the State mineral. But make the Legislature do it.

If you want something done governmentally which will truly affect the availability of tobacco products, why don't you start with eliminating the $850 million in federal subsidies to tobacco growers?

How many of you have written your congress critter about that one? I have.

Passing ballot measure 50 will just extend the reliance of the state government on products which state officials say are an anaethema. Tobacco, alcohol and gambling. You will just give the government a motivation to encourage those activities.

As noted by another poster, if it were to actually be successful as reducing smoking, then the program will suffer from inadequate funding. Having determined that the voters think that funding such is important, they will find other sources of funding.

Jack is still intent in helping OHSU pay off their tram debt. Don't fool yourself, OHSU and it's docs will be the big winners in all this...and they just exiled all those who will be helping up their reliable income.

What ever happened to the medical profession's commitment to helping ALL the afflicted, rather than just those with bucks? I have been told that the physicians no longer invoke the Hippocratic must be because if they did, they wouldn't have any rationale to practice their patients and their families into penury or bilk the taxpayers of more money. The Hippocratic Oath is evidently bad for billing.

I believe the tobacco act of 2004 eliminated the tobacco subsidy program. That was roughly a $10B (billion not million) payoff to the farmers to end the subsidy. I just saw an article in the Economist the other day about how the tobacco farmers are now making more money than ever since they are free of the quota system that the gov used to impose. So a $10B handout and more money to boot. Sounds like a killer deal. I sure wish I was a merchant of death. It pays so well that then I could have the free time to give money away to various progressive causes. I could be like one of those rich wine liberals!


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