The Tobacco Debate

Have you ever heard an adult say – “Yes, I do smoke and I like it BUT, I do not want my children to follow me in this habit”? This rather sums up today’s controversies over all types of tobacco consumption.

I know It’s Bad BUT, It Won’t Harm Me

Most, if not all, tobacco users are fully aware of all the health hazards associated with whatever form of tobacco consumption that they indulge in – some even admit that their indulgence is, in reality, an addictive habit. They probably are in full agreement with laws that prohibit them from exposing innocent bystanders to the effects of their habit but strongly defend their right to expose themselves to the dangers (real or imaginary). Another line of defense is that they only indulge in moderation (and are always “cutting down” their consumption and they only use the currently “safest” form – such as filtered, mild, low tar content cigarettes.

Government Intervention

After the disaster of alcohol prohibition, Government realized that an outright ban on tobacco consumption simply would not work. Cynics may add that this position was also fueled by thoughts about the effect on the Country’s economy if the tobacco industry disappeared over night; let alone the loss of revenue from tobacco taxes.

It’s Not All Smoke And Mirrors

Tobacco can be consumed without burning it to create smoke for inhalation –it can be chewed, placed under the tongue or beside the gums or sniffed in powder form. But, inhaling tobacco smoke remains the most popular method and the majority of “smokers” do this by lighting up a cigarette.

Laws have been introduced to restrict the places where smokers can light up and tax levels on cigarettes have been raised to discourage their purchase and use. Some successfully argue that the smoke produced from burning the tobacco in a pipe or smoking it in cigar form is less harmful than the smoke produced from cigarettes and, therefore, the tax on such products should not be as high as that on cigarettes.

Side Effects Of Discriminative Taxation

Because of slightly more favorable taxation rates, small cigars of similar size to cigarettes can now cost less than cigarettes. This has enabled established cigar manufacturers to attack the cigarette market by introducing the so-called “little cigars”. Leading players like Prime Time International Company (PTIC) have increased market share because of this. An added advantage for them is that cigarette manufacturers are banned from flavoring their product with anything else but menthol whereas little cigars like Prime Time Cigars can be sold with a wide range of, usually, fruity flavors which enhance their appeal to the public’s taste.



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    Author: Carmelo Speelman

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