Straight Talk Advice

Oct 25, 2006

Cigarette tax will stimulate black market

Dear Straight Talk: I’m 45 and I smoke two packs of cigarettes a day. I started when I was 14 and it’s a habit I’ve never been able to kick. Now I’ve got the cardiovascular system of a 65-year-old. I hope you will tell your readers to vote yes on Proposition 86 which will increase the cigarette tax. They say the high cost of buying cigarettes will prevent 700,000 children from picking up this miserable habit and will prompt 500,000 smokers to quit.—Sigh of relief

Dear Relief: It’s my turn to sigh. A 300 percent increase in the cigarette tax will make cigarettes in California cost about $6.50 a pack. Sound prohibitive? Yes, if you’re shopping in stores. I don’t know when you were last on a public high school campus, but the black market is incredible. You can purchase any illegal drug you want, often within minutes. Because 80 percent of all smokers start before they graduate from high school—and because the average starting age is between 13 and 14—young kids who are lighting up are going to be exposed to a lot more than cigarettes. For this reason I think Proposition 86 is flawed. I would prefer the government sell youth on non-smoking the same way all things are successfully sold, using advertising and sponsored role models.

If you’re serious about quitting, see a hypnotherapist. It works, and there are no withdrawal symptoms.


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