Monday, July 20, 2009

The government does not want you to quit smoking

* Abstract:In Chicago, for each pack of Malrboro's sold, Phillip Morris gets 25 cents and the government gets $6. When I get sick, the state sues Phillip Morris and pockets the award. They win on the sale and on the sickness.*

I have a problem with States suing tobacco manufacturers for the health problems that smoking causes. If they are so harmful, ban them completely. If we are going to leave it for people to make their own choice, then let them bear the consequences. It has been long enough now that tht surgeon general has told the world that smoking is bad for your health. If you choose to ignore that warning, you are stupid, self-destructive, and responsible for the outcome.

Why don't we sue the government for allowing this product to be sold? Until this summer, tobacco companies have been given a lot of leeway in how they adulterate their product to make it more addictive. And when I get cancer, why should Phillip Morris have to pay the state and not me? The state wins both ways.

In Chicago, where I live, a pack of cigs is about $8 (very high for the country, I know). But in the Carribean, you can still buy a pack for $2. Consider the cost of growing the product, processing it, packaging it, shipping and advertising it. From that $2, they might see $0.25. Along the way, in Illinois, taxes are levied on this pack for upwards of $6. What does the state have to do to get that $6? They have to print up a stamp and put it on the pack. That's it. No production costs, distribution, etc. They are making 24x the profit with none of the expenditure and none of the liability. Why would they want to dry up this revenue stream?

They claim to need the funds awarded from smoking lawsuits to provide the medical care to those afflicted with smoking-related disease; but they only have to pay for those who do not have their own insurance. And, as any doctor will tell you, medicaid does not pay well at all. And as medicaid patients will tell you, many doctors won't take medicaid.

The government needs to start promoting health, not just making money off those who want to poison us and those who want to sell us the remedy (chemo, radiation, drugs, etc). If the government was paying for everyone's health care, they would not want people smoking. Right now, they get a lot of money from it. This is another reason why we need to restructure our health care system so that government is on the side of the people and is invested in their well-being.

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