Cig­a­rette tax un­con­sti­tu­tional

The Washington Times Daily - - EDITORIAL -

It is painfully un­der­stood by Cal­i­for­nia smok­ers that they are pub­lic out­casts, held up to ha­tred and ridicule by lib­eral non­smok­ers (“Cig­a­rette tax hike takes ef­fect in Cal­i­for­nia, costs surge by $2 per pack, Web, April 1). In­deed, ar­ro­gant celebrity Rob Reiner ar­ranged for a voter ini­tia­tive tax­ing smok­ers 50 cents per pack. This in­creased the cig­a­rette tax to 87 cents, which will fund Mr. Reiner’s per­sonal project to pro­tect chil­dren from smok­ing and fund smok­ing-re­lated health initiatives.

How­ever, it turned into fund­ing his per­sonal “First Five” project for par­ents to teach chil­dren to com­mu­ni­cate dur­ing their first five years — a noble ef­fort, but one un­der­taken, of course, at smok­ers’ ex­pense.

As if that weren’t un­con­sti­tu­tional and pu­n­ish­ing enough, the re­cently passed bal­lot ini­tia­tive im­pos­ing an out­ra­geously pu­n­ish­ing $2 per pack of cig­a­rettes is no cheap trick. In­deed, it is the tyranny of the ma­jor­ity un­con­sti­tu­tion­ally tax­ing smok­ers (most of whom can ill af­ford it) to help pay for Med­i­caid to help the poor and to fund pro­grams to help smok­ers quit smok­ing.

Clearly it doesn’t mat­ter that tobacco is a le­gal prod­uct or that vot­ers re­cently le­gal­ized the use of mar­i­juana — even though pot is a known gate­way drug and causes brain dam­age. It par­tic­u­larly doesn’t mat­ter be­cause pot will be heav­ily taxed and the gen­eral, lib­eral pub­lic ac­cepts its use with­out ques­tion.

The crush­ing price of cig­a­rettes will cer­tainly cre­ate a black mar­ket for smug­glers and in­crease crime. A law­suit is cer­tainly in or­der.

DANIEL B. JEFFS Ap­ple Val­ley, Calif.

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