Apparently, lawmakers from the North Carolina General Assembly once again have the attention of and drawn the ire of the Tar Heel state’s smokers.
The state’s senators and representatives are considering a plan that would place an excise tax on e-cigarettes, putting them in a similar category as its evil twin, real cigarettes.
The vices of tobacco and alcohol have long been a target of taxation by state lawmakers everywhere. After all, neither is considered medically good for anyone, and is often viewed as a luxury where disposable money is spent.
But those opposed to the tax on e-cigarettes — as well as real cigarettes and alcohol — often share two common characteristics: they are firm believers of entitlements and they are bleeding heart liberals, which may actually be a redundant statement.
In the case of e-cigarettes, opponents of the tax see it as an attack on the poor, saying that nearly one-third of those living below the poverty line are smokers. The very same argument is often made about those who drink.
It has always seemed to make sense to us that, if an individual can’t afford to buy any significant groceries, then they shouldn’t be buying cigarettes or alcohol. And our tax dollars being funneled to these folks as part of their monthly entitlements also shouldn’t be used in any way to satisfy those vices.
Opponents of alcohol and tobacco taxes say it hurts the businesses selling the products because it gives consumers a reason not to buy the product — as if there isn’t already ample and logical reasons against purchasing tobacco in any form, a six-pack or bottle in a brown bag.
Perhaps the silliest of all arguments is that a cigarette and beer is to the poor what a cigar and brandy is to the rich, and since the rich can afford to pay a tax, lawmakers shouldn’t hamper the poor’s ability to have their own level of luxury.
Towns, cities and even states are teetering on bankruptcy, and we haven’t seen the likes of Warren Buffet or George Soros funneling any of their billions into their coffers. So taxation is a must — and we think taxing vices is the right place to start.
If e-cigarettes want to compete with its much-older tobacco cousin, then it should be prepared to be taxed like it.