Stanton Glantz is a moron, isn\’t he?

Under proposition 29, the tax per pack would jump from 87 cents to $1.87.
The initiative\’s sponsors – the Cancer Society, the American Lung
Association and the American Heart Foundation – say it would raise
more than $750m for cancer research and stop 220,000 children from
taking up smoking.

\”Within five years the idea of smoking as a socially tolerated behaviour could simply collapse,\” said Glantz. \”This is a tremendously important fight. It could make California the first state where where the tobacco epidemic has been ended.\”

Currently a pack of cigarettes is $5.10 in California.

$6.22 in Ohio and $11.90 in New York.

Smoking has indeed been vanquished in Ohio and New York, hasn\’t it?

9 thoughts on “Stanton Glantz is a moron, isn\’t he?”

  1. People will start to buy cheap imports or counterfeit like in the UK causing more illness and less tax raised .

  2. “Man talks up own cause too much”, sure, but I don’t think there’s any doubt that higher tobacco taxes lead to reduced volume consumption of tobacco. If they didn’t, that would go against the whole of economics (although cigs are addictive, they’re not vertical-demand-curve-addictive).

    Mitch: erm, no. Some people will buy legit cigarettes that have been smuggled cross-border within the same customs region (like *actually* happens in the UK); some people will buy fewer regular cigarettes; and some people won’t change their behaviour at all. The net result will be definitely be less illness; the impact on tax raised is a much more interesting question (paging Mr Laffer, etc).

  3. @john b

    Maybe there may be a net benefit in health terms but counterfeit cigarettes are a real and growing health threat:

    Counterfeit cigarettes being sold in Sussex contain abnormally high levels of cancer-causing chemicals, a BBC investigation has revealed.

    The Economist (£) also recently reported that Chinese gangs were starting to get involved in counterfeiting and the problem was expected to get worse with the introduction of plain packaging.

  4. It’s in everyone’s interest to pretend that counterfeiting is the main Thing That Happens.

    From the bansturbators’ point of view, pretending that if you buy cheap fags they’ll be fake scares the public into smoking only taxed fags or nothing at all.

    From the cigarette companies’ point of view, it’s an argument against plain packaging… and, more importantly, distracts from the fact that they’re happy to ship levels of product vastly above domestic consumption into the low-tax markets where the smuggling industry is based.

  5. “Man talks up own cause too much”, sure, but I don’t think there’s any doubt that higher tobacco taxes lead to reduced volume consumption of tobacco.”
    Does it? the moronic drugs war has had no effect on drug taking and that’s with all the locking people up stuff.

  6. So Much For Subtlety

    john b – “Some people will buy legit cigarettes that have been smuggled cross-border within the same customs region (like *actually* happens in the UK)”

    You’re in Australia right? I guy I know buys his tobacco from some Vietnamese guys. Who buy it direct from the farmer. They dry and cure it themselves in their back shed. Tastes like crap he says. But it is cheap. Perhaps that is the future model for Britain too.

    “The net result will be definitely be less illness”

    I doubt that. Rather there will be a general redistribution of diseases. Some, like lung cancer, will probably go down. Others, like Alzheimer’s, will probably go up. Even so, is it worth it? Prohibition reduced illness and domestic violence in the US.

    “the impact on tax raised is a much more interesting question (paging Mr Laffer, etc).”

    That is true. So far some American states have hit the problem of less revenue than they had hoped because smoking is in decline.

  7. Making it expensive always means that people will go for the fakes.
    Making it hard to get always means that people will find ways around the checks.
    Making it illegal always means that people will use illegal methods.

    There is no point in banning things. It’s human psychology to find ways round things. That’s why we are so inventive.
    Levels of smoking are slowly going down naturally through changes in society. It doesn’t need any banning to try and increase the decline. The law of unintended consequences will kick in and it’s more likely to increase smoking due to people rebelling against being forced to act against their will.

  8. No-one seems to have mentioned the ridiculous claim that it would raise such a lot of money. Glantz should ask NYC where a massive hike in tax resulted in a massive crash in revenues. Oh yeah, and loosies being sold openly on the streets.

  9. Eddy: prohibition *did* cut alcohol consumption; but it achieved this largely because ordinary chaps would no longer have a beer or two, rather than by making hardcore drunks consume any less (beer consumption fell to near-zero, while spirits consumption rose).

    The war on drugs does the same thing, deterring some law-abiding citizens from consuming altogether while encouraging hardcore drug enthusiasts to use stronger and more dangerous substances. Hence the (vastly exaggerated but grounded in truth) stories about cannabis increasing in strength over time.

    SMFS: yes. The crucial difference is that Australia is an island in the middle of nowhere which isn’t part of a customs union and has incredibly stringent customs controls, so the options are straight or fake, rather than straight, smuggled or fake.

    Dick: CA isn’t NYC, though. Most major population centres in California aren’t a ten-minute drive or train ride to another state (particularly given the conditions in which the War on Other Drugs has left the Mexican border).

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