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Stogie Commentary: Smokers Don’t Get a Fair Shake

8 Aug 2006

We often tell you how smokers are victimized by government-imposed smoking bans that make it illegal for restaurant owners to permit smoking in their establishments. But don’t think for a second that smokers’ treatment as second-class citizens ends there.

Tobacco taxes are another way to victimize smokers. In May, we explained why these taxes are so wrong:

When politicians and well-funded “activists” target taxes on unpopular or unorganized groups in order to fund their pet projects, it is the political equivalent of a schoolyard bully picking on the weakest kid in school. If politicians cannot convince citizens that taxes to fund their projects should be spread broadly across the tax base, they should reevaluate the necessity of the program, not look for a more vulnerable group with which they can saddle the burden.

But now we find another even more extreme example of smokers being targeted with “tobacco taxes.” In Alabama, three Jefferson County cities have been illegally collecting taxes on tobacco for two years to the tune of $2.1 million.

The Alabama Supreme Court reversed itself Friday and ruled illegal a 10-cent tax on tobacco products levied by some Jefferson County cities. “I think the Supreme Court got it right on the legality of the tax,” said lawyer Pete Short, who filed a lawsuit seeking to get the tax overturned. “The law was clear that cities in Jefferson County could not tax tobacco products.”

So will they try to give this money back to the victims it was stolen from? Quite the opposite:

The high court ruled that money collected under the tax by Bessemer, Hoover and Hueytown – about $1.8 million – go to Cooper Green (government) Hospital after a third of the sum is awarded in attorney fees.

So, to sum up, Big Brother took $2.1 million from smokers and, after two years of litigation, the victims get nothing back. Whatever money remains after attorney fees returns to the very government that stole the money in the first place!

That wouldn’t pass for justice in a kangaroo court in a third world dictatorship…But for people who choose to smoke, it’s just another example of how smokers can’t get a fair shake.

-Patrick S


One Response to “Stogie Commentary: Smokers Don’t Get a Fair Shake”

  1. Ray C Tuesday, August 8, 2006 at 11:16 am #

    Wow! That's really bad… I'm suprised I haven't heard about this anywhere else.