Thursday’s column (Fruit-flavored Nicorette)

If you smoke, you probably already know the price of a pack of cigarettes went up pretty dramatically over the past couple of days.

Smokers, who were paying anywhere from $4 to $4.50 a pack, suddenly find themselves paying anywhere from $5 to $6 for 20 “coffin nails.”

I stopped at a liquor store near home last night and asked the kid behind the counter, “What gives?”

“Something about new taxes,” he said. “(The tobacco companies) raised their prices to get a few more bucks before the tax kicks in.”

At a liquor store down the street from the office, the guy that usually helps me with a smile was simply mad Wednesday.

“I don’t get why they keep adding taxes to everything,” he said. “Pretty soon none of my customers can afford to smoke.”

If you are as mad as my liquor store guy, you can write your letter of thanks to the federal government. As of April 1, the federal excise on a pack of smokes increases from 39 cents to $1. That’s about a 150 percent jump.

Chewers and cigar aficionados are going to have to chip in too.

I follow the news for a living, but I don’t remember cigarette smokers being praised for saving the federal government – again.

Truthfully, this time it’s for the children.

The increased tax revenue reportedly will be spent providing health care to 3.5 million uninsured children at the cost of $32.8 billion, according to published reports.

Who knows how much of that will be used to hire new high-salaried bureaucrats to administer the program? Want to bet a good chunk of the money will never find its way to a sick child because its lining the pocket of some Washington fat cats?

Charles D. Conner, American Lung Association president and CEO, issued platitudes about sick smokers, but in the end flatly admitted the tax is an effort to help a dismal economy.

“Considering half of all smokers will die prematurely from their addiction, increasing the federal cigarette tax will go a long (way) to save young lives and is also good for our economy,” Conner said in a statement he wrote on Feb 5.

Here’s the kicker: There’s a good chance the state will tack another $1.50 on top of the increased federal tax. On Tuesday, a group of Democrats in the state Senate, led by Alex Padilla, introduced SB 600, which proposes to do just that.

Padilla has latched on to something he thinks will resonate with his cronies because smoking is so unpopular.

I’ll admit I enjoy my nicotine fixes. No doubt my family, friends and co-workers recognize the difference in my personality when I’m deprived.

On the other hand, I don’t want to give the government another dime of my hard-earned money. Guess what I found out? There’s no excise taxes on nicotine gum.

I’m sold.

Google search of the week: “French Military Victories”

I typed it in and pressed the “I’m Feeling Lucky” button.

Google’s response?

“Did you mean French military defeats?”

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  • 5th Estate

    who Cares?