On June 21, 2022, the New York Post reported:
“The Biden administration on Tuesday said it wants to cap the amount of nicotine allowed in cigarettes as part of an effort to stem addiction and reduce smoking-related deaths.
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“Noting that “tobacco-related harms” primarily result from addiction, officials said the Food and Drug Administration ‘would take this action to reduce addictiveness to certain tobacco products, thus giving addicted users a greater ability to quit.’”
And then on June 23, 2022, the Wall Street Journal carried a front page article:
“Fans of Juul’s sleek vaporizers will soon have to find another way to get their nicotine fix.
“The Food and Drug Administration on Thursday ordered Juul Labs Inc. to halt U.S. sales of all of its e-cigarette products. The agency said retailers should remove Juul’s products from stores and consumers should seek out alternatives.”
These are both tobacco related products. So why the difference? Well here’s a clue:
In 2021, according Statista.com, the federal tobacco tax raised $12.14 Billion. The states added about another $7 Billion.
There is no similar excise tax on e-cigarettes.
Get it? Reducing the amount of nicotine in cigarettes will not reduce the amount of tax revenue collected from cigarettes. In fact, it is likely the amount of tax revenue could increase because those addicted to tobacco will have to smoke more cigarettes to achieve the same level of the addictive nicotine. On the other hand, because e-cigarettes produce no excise tax, the government is free to ban them without any concern that tax revenue would be reduced. Got it now?
While there has never been scientific evidence detailing the cause and effect of smoking causing cancer, there is overwhelming statistical evidence of the correlation between smoking and cancer – particularly lung cancer. Given that significant body of evidence the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has sufficient authority to ban the production, sale and use of cigarettes and other tobacco related products. In point of fact that evidence has been in existence since the early 1950’s and conclusively since a study completed in 1964 known as the American Cancer Society’s Hammond-Horn Study and Cancer Prevention Study-I. Theses studies were the propellant to impose increasingly strict warning levels mandated by the FDA.
While the FDA has sufficient legal authority backed by a mountain of evidence, it has not to date, including the most recent announcement by President Joe Biden’s administration, sought to ban cigarettes as a health hazard. And the reason is plain and simple: MONEY. No, I don’t mean shadowy lobbyists dropping campaign contributions on the floor of various members of Congress and succeeding presidential administrations. This is a much more malignant example of MONEY. They do not ban cigarettes because that nearly $20 Billion dollars annually in tax revenue, plus the tax revenue from the profits of the tobacco companies are not only “easy money” but reeks of “virtue signaling” and punishment for those guilty of continuing to use tobacco as if they are America’s new lepers.
So brazen are the various levels of government that they, in effect, undertake regression analysis to determine the level of taxes on tobacco related products. (For those of you forced to endure a teachers union led education in the Portland Public Schools a regression analysis in this case is a statistical model designed to determine the relationship between a dependent variable and an independent variable.) In this case how much can you raise the tax on cigarettes before it reduces consumption to produce a net loss of revenue.
The point here is pretty simple. The government whose principle responsibility it to keep us safe has consistently preferred taxes over safety. While lung cancer deaths per 100,000 population has been on a steady but weak decline annually it remains among the leading causes of death in America. Cancer generally is the number two cause of death and lung cancer accounts for nearly one-fourth of those deaths according to the Center for Disease Control (CDC). Approximately 132,000 Americans died from lung cancer in 2021. That makes the body count equal to about $150,000 of tax revenue per death. Apparently that is a small price to pay to line the government coffers.
If you still believe that the government is looking out for you, go ask the family of someone who died from cigarette related lung cancer how they feel about it.