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Cigarette Tax Might Be Least Divisive Issue This Election

There may be divisive topics on the ballot but remember to vote or your opinion doesn't count.

Once again, it’s election time in Moorpark. For the love of democracy, please remember to vote on Tuesday.

Civics 101: If you don’t vote (and have the legal ability to), your opinion doesn’t count. And I don’t want to talk to you about anything vaguely political if you can’t take a few minutes out of your day to make check-marks in a handful of boxes. Is it inconvenient to vote if you have a job? Possibly. Does that matter? Uh, no.

One of the more important (although less contentious) issues being voted on this election is whether or not to increase the tax on a pack of cigarettes from $0.87 to $1.87.

In Moorpark, where smoking in public has been illegal since 2009, and smoking in restaurants has been banned since 1993, it doesn’t seem like much of an issue. Even for those against general taxes, taxing cigarettes seems like a reasonable way to secure some funding for a variety of state programs.

I’ll admit that growing up in Moorpark gave me a naïve perception of the nicotine habits of the average American.

According to the CDC, nearly 20 percent of American adults were regular smokers in 2010. Although it’s difficult to find an exact number of adult smokers in Moorpark, in 2008, roughly 13 percent of Ventura County adults were smokers—quite a bit less than the national average.

While growing up, I absolutely took for granted my relatively smoke-free environment. In fact, it wasn’t until my eighth-grade trip to Washington D.C. that I saw people smoking in public (I know, I know—I was incredibly sheltered.)

As I spent more time outside of Southern California, I realized how rarefied this kind of environment was.

I went to a college in a town where, although the smoking rate was the same as Ventura County, the existing smoking laws there (and by golly, you never would have known there were laws against smoking in public) have done little to curtail the 13 percent of adult smokers from sharing the second-hand smoke with all their friends.

Every time a new cigarette tax appeared on the local and state ballots, I had friends who would groan about how awful it was and how it infringed on their rights. To be fair, in a town where there was a tobacco retailer aptly named, “The Black Lung,” you might expect a little bit of opposition to the tax.

However, the opposition was actually quite strong, with many of the smokers truly feeling that having to pay an additional tax was an infringement of their personal right to choose to partake in nicotine consumption.

It didn’t cross their minds that it was everyone else’s right to not breathe in toxins when leaving their homes.

Verbally vicious debates broke out among my smoking and non-smoking friends—an issue that might seem rather cut and dried to most Moorparkians (and I make this assumption based on the fact that people actually pay attention to smoking ordinances), was a seriously divisive issue where I went to school

The point of all of this is that, as you go to vote on Tuesday, be thankful that although there certainly are divisive topics on the ballot, in Moorpark at least, we seem to stand fairly united on the decision to not support Big Tobacco.

*Moorpark Patch as an entity does not support or oppose any political propositions or candidates. The opinions stated in this article are solely the opinions of the author.

Steve June 04, 2012 at 04:10 PM
While the intent of Prop 29 may be good, state of California needs every cent of revenue it can collect to offset the budget deficit not to pay for undefined research and an entirely new set of officials who do ot have to report to anyone. Please someone tell me how that is good for California with the current economic climate??
L June 04, 2012 at 05:34 PM
The tax on cigarettes goes to cancer research. Thus, it is a charge on smokers to pay for medical research they are going to need in the very near future. It is also raises the price on cigarettes to dissuade young people from buying cigarettes and hopefully preventing future smokers.
Dannielle Huxley June 05, 2012 at 04:21 PM
I don't agree with the tax. I don't smoke. We know it's an unhealthy habit and it's a bit of a dirty habit. Plus it stinks :) But what stinks more is the government trying to act in loco parentis. We are not 10 year olds and we already have parents. We don't need big brother trying to serve as father figure as well. Smokers are *already* taxed to pay for healthcare and anti-smoking education, etc. Isn't that what they told us last time they wanted us to vote a tax on cigs? The argument that "It didn’t cross their minds that it was everyone else’s right to not breathe in toxins when leaving their homes" makes me laugh a little. Do you drive a car? Gasp! You do? But but but what about everyone else's right to not breathe in toxins??? There's also the irony that taxing smokers makes us dependent on smokers. The government/we come to rely on that tax. And yet we say we also want to decrease smoking. hmmm What happens when/if the smokers die off or quit? Which group that is small enough and whose habit we don't like much will we attack then? That brings me to my next (and last, don't worry.) point. Why is it ok to persecute (via taxes) a group simply because we don't like what they choose to do? Would it be ok to tax, say, Jews or Muslims because —according to Christians, which happens to be the majority—they're doing something that is harmful to not just themselves, but their very souls. Yeah, didn't think so.

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