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Cigarette Taxing - the Effect on Our Society

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Cigarette Taxing:

The Effect on our Society

Cigarette smoking is said to be the most over-practiced addiction in the world. So, why do people continue to use them? Well, there are many reasons as to why, some of which can not be answered, but one reason is because the tax on cigarettes are too low and are still affordable for people to buy. Taxing cigarette's would not only increase the prices to an extreme level that the average person would not consider buying them, but youth and young adults especially would disregard the notion to purchase such an expensive and deadly product. Today, there are states such as California, that are already looking into raising cigarette tax, so the money can go towards the cost of treating tobacco-related illnesses and diseases in the state's emergency rooms (McLain, 2005).

The reasoning behind so many people being put into hospitals and emergency rooms is because there are so many Americans in our society that are still choosing to smoke. Studies have found that smoking cigarette's is very dangerous and causes many problems such as lung cancer, birth defects, emphysema, asthma and many other body defects. With pregnancies, smoking may lead to premature birth or can limit the child to normal human functions. Also, cigarettes contain an active drug called nicotine, a stimulant that activates the brain's rewards system and when the nicotine reaches the brain, it induces feelings of pleasure and increases mental alertness (Besinger 2003-2004). Nicotine also constricts blood flow to the heart, thereby increasing blood pressure and heart rate (Besinger 2003-2004). Nicotine is one of thousands of chemicals found in cigarettes, such as formaldehyde, cyanide, and insecticide (Teenage Smoking, 2005). One of the more dangerous effects of smoking is lung cancer. Lung cancer is the leading disease formed by cigarette smoking and 30 percent of cancer deaths are linked to smoking (Besinger 2003-2004). Inhalation of smoke harms the lungs and limits them to full growth potential. Stephen Jay, chair of the Department of Public Health at Indiana University School of Medicine, states that tobacco's "human toll far exceeds the Black Death of the 14th century, the global influenza pandemic of 1918-19, and the modern tragedy of HIV-AIDS." (Hayley, 2004). This is an interesting, but yet scary fact that Stephen Jay has provided because all those diseases are also very harmful, but apparently cigarette smoking is far worse. Another fact, that smokers and non-smokers need to be aware of is that second hand smoke is twice as dangerous as smoking regularly and is the nation's #1 airborne carcinogen (Besinger, 2003-2004). The persons that are inhaling second hand smoke are not choosing to do so, which is why it is so important for cigarette smoking to be put to an end. It may not happen in the near future, but if people start making a change now then this would take our society one step closer to a 100% smoke free environment. Since, cigarette costs can prevent a person from purchasing the product, this must be used to an advantage for maintaining a smoke-free environment for our country.

Cigarette costs do determine whether or not a person is going to smoke. When cigarette taxes are higher, the chance of purchase is slimmer and is a great way to pay for medical costs. The direct medical costs of tobacco use in the United States exceed 75 billion dollars per year (Besinger, 2003-2004). This is an insane amount of money being put towards health issues that may have been prevented by not smoking cigarettes. If taxes were raised a portion of the money could go towards that 75 billion dollars of medical costs from tobacco products. The state of California has already planned on proposing the Emergency Services Tobacco Act of 2006 (McLain, 2005). The Emergency Services Tobacco Act of 2006 would increase the sales tax on a pack of cigarettes by $1.50 to offset the costs of treating tobacco-related illnesses and diseases in the state's emergency rooms (McLain, 2005). Already, states in the U.S., such as California, have started to raise taxes on the cost of cigarettes.

Do Americans feel this is a good idea? Well, according to a recent survey conducted by the Gallup Organization, it shows that 53% of all Americans say taxes should be raised in an effort to help local and state governments offset the smoking (Carlson, 2005). The other 43% say raising taxes would discriminate against smokers (Carlson, 2005). Society has already discriminated against smoking itself, since it was first discovered that smoking was harmful to the body. Raising taxes on cigarettes will leave many smokers unhappy and leave them with a feeling of discrimination, but smokers should realize that is not the case at all. Society is only going to be helping them in overcoming the addiction and quit smoking. A recent study has shown that approximately 70 percent of smokers would like to stop smoking, but only half have been advised by their health care professional to quit (Teenage Smoking, 2005). Many may feel they don't want to quit smoking in which case



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