December 29, 2008

The Cigarette is Dead?

One of the first things I noticed in Boston were the number of smokers. At four months at Mount Allison I saw about twenty of the same people smoking every now and then. It really wasn't an issue. But walking down the street in Boston I saw more people smoking in four minutes than I had in four months.

One thing that I'm thankful for is higher taxes on cigarettes.

"Increased taxes on cigarettes have been called the best smoking cessation program in the world. In Canada, between 63 and 79 per cent of the price of a package of cigarettes is tax. In New York, by comparison, the tax on cigarettes is 38 per cent."

I was looking around at other Canadian blogs and came across a post from Canadian University Marketing about a grassroots anti-smoking campaign. I know from taking D.A.R.E. and other generally ineffective drug education programs that telling people what to do generally doesn't work, especially when it comes to smoking. Videos like this seem a bit more credible, but dramatic sounds and words alone won't change behavior.

Yes, cigarettes are terrible for you, but that's nothing new to people who smoke. The site lists different anti-smoking laws around the country and personal stories of people trying to quit. It takes more than "You should stop because it's bad for you" to overcome nicotine addiction. Making cigarettes more expensive and limiting the places people can smoke are a step, but it takes something more personal for addicts to quit.


  1. The price of smokes has no effect on how much I smoke. They would need to get many times as expensive. I wish I could think of an alternative suggestion.

    I have a bit of a problem with the government getting tax revenue from an activity that is harmful to citizens. It is a sort of conflict of interests. The revenue has to be very carefully accounted and directed exclusively to eliminating tobacco addiction. I think even directing it to a general health care budget (based on the idea that smokers cost the medical system more -- we don't because we die early, but that's the perception) would raise a lot of ethical problems.

  2. ♪Smoking makes your breath smello!
    ♪Smoking makes your teeth yellow!

    (1970's anti-smoking ad.)

    Seriously, since most people start smoking before they become 18 years old, we do need to keep the cigarette taxes high and deny all people, including the young, places to smoke. Geekwad may have the disposable income to buy cigarettes at high prices. Young teens do not have the disposable income to do the same.

  3. My mother told me of a friend of hers. A woman in her twenties. On two occasions now, a lung of hers collapsed because of weakness. She's a heavy smoker. The doctors told her, she must immediately quit smoking, or she'll die. She can't stop! She's so addicted that she must smoke, even in the face of certain death. What does that tell you about her addiction? Nothing is more important to the behavioural drive of this woman. No high price will save her. No prohibition will heal her. In this specific case, you could say, wait until she dies, and her addiction will die also. Who follows suit? Seems the government may lose labour, but profits nonetheless.

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