Monday, May 22, 2006

Where do 'Teens' Come Into the Picture?

From an editorial by the once-conservative Cincinnati Enquirer:

Tobacco companies have found yet another loophole to evade taxes, dodge health restrictions and market their wares to teens. Fortunately, 40 state attorneys general haven't been fooled by attempts to pass off cigarette substitutes, in brown wrappers, as "little cigars."

The attorneys general, including Kentucky's Greg Stumbo, have asked the federal government to reclassify many of these so-called "cigars" as cigarettes. North Carolina, another big tobacco state, also joined in. Ohio did not, because the definition doesn't affect its tobacco settlement money.

The Treasury Department's Alcohol Tax and Trade Bureau lets tobacco companies decide for themselves if their product is a cigarette or a cigar. Cigars are taxed at half the price of cigarettes or less, and can be sold in smaller packs, making them more affordable for teens. The attorneys general say many "little cigars" are to all intents and purposes identical in ingredients to cigarettes except for the brown wrapper. TTB should put a stop to this sham that shortchanges tax revenue and often targets underage youth.

HUH? Such demagoguery has no business in this debate and silly "what about the children!" arguments should have gone out of style about ten minutes after "it depends upon your definition if 'is' is" ceased to become a valid excuse.

As for tobacco companies trying to avoid taxes: good for them! The editors of The Enquirer would be surprised how many men in American history have tried such a noble venture; people with names such as Jefferson, Madison...

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