I'm rerunning this item since California's primary election is tomorrow.
I wrote a brief piece on the ballot propositions last week, but I want to expand a bit on this one. This is yet another in a long line of tobacco taxes that purport to make all our lives better by taking hundreds of millions of dollars out of the economy and throwing it who knows where. The total haul is supposed to be something like $735 million, most of which will come from lower income Californians because statistics tell us they make up a majority of smokers.
What I find particularly aggravating about the ads (that are running several times an hour now as desperation grows) they're using the line "if you don't smoke you won't pay the tax" to justify passing this monstrosity. This is the same argument used to justify increasing tax rates on high income earners. If you're not rich, no problem, you won't pay the tax. But in reality we all pay the taxes as those funds leave the economy and drop into the black hole of government.
Tobacco taxes are also among the most cynical taxes levied. They're piled on people who have a physiological addiction to the product being taxed and for whom quitting is extremely difficult. We all know that smoking is dangerous, but unlike many other products or activities the government will ban if dangerous, they'll never ban smoking because they have a built in revenue source. Untold numbers of government programs would collapse if smoking were banned and those funds cut off.
Prop 29 would create a giant bureaucracy funded on the backs of low income people, and would undoubtedly provide slush funds for all kinds of activities unrelated to smoking prevention or cancer cures.
Please vote NO on Prop 29.