the dramatic increase in tobacco taxes raises myriad issues. alexander hamilton thought that the federal government could be largely financed by taxes on alcohol, and said in federalist 12 that americans could never be made to pay taxes directly (har har). then:
The single article of ardent spirits, under Federal regulation, might be made to furnish a considerable sum....and if it should tend to diminish the consumption of it, such an effect would be equally favorable to agriculture, to the economy, to the morals, and to the health of the society. There is perhaps nothing so much a subject of national extravagance, as these spirits.
the thing was an obsession with hamilton. before long, revenue collectors and still licensers in the western frontier were being tarred and feathered and run out of town on a rail. then there was a violent rebellion, put down personally by hamilton through military means. perhaps we are on the verge of a smokers' rebellion, though perhaps not. oddly, the argument is that the tax will reduce consumption, yet the children's healthcare initiative which it funds will be dependent on people's continuing consumption. really, the gov ought to get busy advertising smoking. the choice between smoking and children's health insurance is meant to put opponents in the extremely untenable position of favoring lung cancer for adults over the health of children. one thing i like about the whole deal: it makes children's health directly correlate with adult ill-health, or makes the health of children and adults vary inversely, which is excellent. meanwhile, the tax is a nice revenue-generator precisely because people are addicted; addictive substances are the perfect commodities, and also the perfect thing to tax, and gov gets into the lovely paradoxical position of discouraging and depending on addiction simultaneously, as in state governments in relation to gambling, for example. or state abc boards with booze.