Saturday, July 14, 2007

Dispatch Just Doesn't Get It

Well, the Shawnee Dispatch has done it again.

In a recent editorial, available at
they again take up the smoking ban cause.

Ironically, and unfortunately, many Americans are falling for much of this rhetoric.
Where do I start? They cite the government studies regarding second-hand smoke. They really don't want to consider the studies that contradict the government. Ironically, over the years the number of smokers has decreased. Yet more folks are coming down with illnesses that are being attributed to second-hand smoke. Golly gee, is it at all possible that these pulmonary and cardio vascular problems can be traced to the increase in the number of vehicles being driven and the junk that is being tossed into the air? Nahhhh, we don't want to take on the auto industry.

Now, let's look at another aspect for a second. There are restaurants in Shawnee that have, voluntarily gone smoke free. I applaud them. Why do the others need a "level playing field"? If there are so many folks who would go out more often (as stated in various behavioral studies) then these restaurant owners would be making the changes on their own. It would be in their financial interests to do it. All of those non-smokers would be flocking to their establishments, more often, making up for the lost business from smokers.

What I take offense to in that editorial is the santimonious drivel when the author says:

"Presumably no one would quibble with laws that restrict businesses’ ability to add harmful substances to our food; why should our air be any different?"

And the author also says: "In its deliberations, the task force needs to consider one overriding factor: public health."

Would the author of that piece support sanctions against SUVs, trucks etc for belching emissions into the air? Maybe by a special pollution permit? How much trash does the average citizen inhale because of auto emissions? How many people have developed health problems because of air pollution that are erroneously attributed to second-hand smoke?

Last but not least. Most folks are not aware of how much money is paid to the state via excise taxes on cigarettes. We won't even talk about sales taxes. As the number of smokers keeps declining, the excise taxes have to go down. Then what happens? Well, those taxes could be raised (again) to increase revenue. But, eventually, the goose that lays the golden egg will be cooked. So, what happens next? Raise other taxes? Tax items not previously taxed? Reduce government services? From 2000 to 2002 excise tax collections dropped. In 2003 the State of Kansas tripled the excise tax rate. Collections spiked, but are again declining because of a substantial decrease in the number of packs sold. In effect, the number of packs from 2000 to 2006 has been dropping each year, to the point where the difference from 2000 to 2006 is over 50 million packs. We are talking about tens of millions of dollars in lost revenue that has to be made up.

As stated previously we won't even touch on the lost sales tax revenues.