Friday, June 25, 2010
My emission on tobacco prohibition--And the paid help answers.
A tale of two letters.
Every so often, when frustrated by one or another of
the government's behaviour modification schemes, one is forced to rail against the Ontario government's wrongheaded plan to tax cigarettes out of existence.
Of course, Mafia Miltie always has other ideas....A thriving black market cigarette trade at an eighth the cost of overground cigarettes.
And so I sally forth in the TorStar chain of local newspapers:
HIGH TOBACCO TAXES BEHIND ILLEGAL SMOKES
The current witch hunt over illegal cigarettes gives me images of Keystone Kops
Our governments have, over the last decade, tried to tax cigarettes out of the market.
The predictable result, is,instead, this has created a black market that delivers cigarettes to Canadians for the price of a song.
The RCMP says these imported black market cigarettes are available for sale on our streets and around our schools.
It is estimated they account for more than 30 per cent of Canadian consumption and much higher than that in Ontario and Quebec.
I would say this points to the government's lack of commitment to enforce and contol the distribution of illegal cigarettes.
This was entirely predictable based on the previous attempt 15 years earlier, when taxation was tried as a way to encourage smokers to quit.
The result, then as now, was smuggling increased.
Astronomical legal tobacco prices have encouraged higher smoking rates among young people by tolerating the proliferation of cheap, black market cigarettes.
Premier Dalton McGuinty, be at least as smart as former prime minster Jean Chretien, and cut tobacco prices by half.
You'll find tobacco tax revenue to be about the same as now, with fewer smugglers.
To which the paid help from the Canadia Cancer Society replies:
Re: High tobacco taes behind illegal smokes, letter to the editor by Ivan Prokopchuk, June 10
HIGHER TOBACCO TAXES DON'T ENCOURAGE SMOKING
As a leader in the fight against illegal tobacco, I can tell you you're fundamentally wrong in saying higher tobacco taxes encourage higher smoking rates.
Numerous studies have shown increasing the price of cigarettes if one of the best ways to encourage young people to stop smoking, and prevent young people from starting to smoke.
If the price of tobacco is increased by just ten per cent, consumption will generally drop by four per cent--more for youth.
Ontario has the lowest tobacco tax rate in Canada, almost half that of other rovinces.
For years, the Canadian Cancer Society has led the fight against illegal contraband tobacco at the provincial and federal levels.
We encourage everybody to go to cancer.ca, join the fight and take action on contraband tobacco.
CANADIA CANCER SOCIETY
HOLLAND RIVER UNIT MANAGER
Myself, I can hear Al Capone laughing out of his grave.