Toen de Surgeon General een maand geleden opperde om alle tabak te verbieden bleef het opvallend stil in de anti-rokenhoek en bij de overheid. Tabak uit de wereld helpen is toch het doel waarnaar zij streven zou je denken?
De vice-president van tabaksfabrikant RJR Reynolds verbaasde zich hier ook over en analyseerde de situatie in een krantenartikel.
Between 1998 and 2002, state, federal and local government collected nearly $135 billion from U.S. smokers, who, according to our data, have a median annual household income of about $35,000. Government pockets more tobacco revenue per minute than the average working family brings home in a year. About 47 percent of the cost of an average pack of cigarettes goes to government. In contrast, my company, R.J. Reynolds Tobacco, makes a profit per pack of about 3 percent.
State governments are particularly dependent upon cigarette funding. If the surgeon general were to get his wish, for example, California would stand to lose $2.3 billion annually. New York would be out $2.1 billion. Texas would fall short by $1.7 billion and Michigan more than $1 billion.
In 2002, 44 states faced budget deficits. Twenty of them increased cigarette taxes to help make up the difference. To date this year, nine states have increased cigarette taxes.
It’s a good thing that a suggestion that amounts to a ban on this enormous revenue stream came from a physician. A number of state governors might need CPR if they were told they’d lost their state tobacco revenues.
Ironically, even the anti-smoking lobby didn’t warm up to the concept of banning cigarettes. Perhaps that’s not as surprising as it might seem. Revenues from taxes and the Master Settlement Agreement between the states and major cigarette manufacturers have provided more than $2 billion in funding for youth nonsmoking programs and other tobacco-control activities; many of the anti-smoking groups receive a portion of these funds.
Entirely apart from the government’s financial dependence upon tobacco, banning a product used by nearly one-quarter of the adult U.S. population is a dicey proposal at best.
Is it realistic to believe that more than 40 million Americans would just quit smoking? The black market created by such a move would make The Sopranos look like a bunch of choirboys.