Thursday, September 17, 2009

MPP seeks to roll back tobacco taxes

Toby Barrett has seen the light. Tobacco taxes are too high and have reached a level where they have become counter-productive. A politician exhibiting common sense? Or a modern day Don Quixote?

According to the Ontario MPP (Member of the Provincial Parliament) for Haldimand-Norfolk, contraband cigarette sales in Ontario “now account for more than 50% of cigarettes on the street.” He's pegged the cost to Ottawa and the provinces at 2.5 billion dollars in lost tax revenue in 2008 alone.

So, as noted in the Brantford Expositor, he's introduced a private members bill (The Tobacco Tax Reduction Act) to reduce tobacco taxes in Ontario by 33%. And, he wants Ottawa to follow suit.

And, Barrett's website points out that: “It was this type of cooperation that shut down illegal tobacco in 1994. During the 1980s and 1990s, high tobacco taxes and retail prices fostered smuggling and by 1991, it was believed that one in every nine cigarettes in Canada was contraband, yielding $709 million to smugglers.”

The government should have learned a lesson. They didn't. Instead, they allowed the self-appointed, unelected saviours of public health to set public policy; to lead them around by the nose and once again raise tobacco taxes to even more usurious levels. Did they really expect a different outcome?

Of course, Barrett's private members bill hasn't got a snowball's chance in hell of gathering support in the Liberal dominated provincial legislature. In fact, I'd be surprised if he receives anything beyond token support from his own Conservative colleagues. Political correctness trumps common sense every time in the Alice in Wonderland world of politics.

And, pointing to lessons learned from past mistakes will prove equally futile.

One drawback to Barrett's plan? In 1994, Canada and the provinces could make the decision to lower taxes in the national interest. But, since then, the country has signed on to the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC). Tobacco policy is no longer decided in Ottawa, or Queen's Park in Toronto. It is dictated by the WHO (World Health Organization) in New York.

And, just in case politicians at the federal or provincial level should forget that fact, you can expect the anti-smoker crowd to remind them of their “international treaty obligations.”

The anti-smoker pressure groups, funded in large measure through taxpayer dollars, will shoot down Barrett's bill just as surely as "Wop" May shot down the Red Baron. He'll be lucky if he has a chance to rev his engine, let alone get into the air.

Barrett complains that: “The McGuinty government has spent $13 million on Smoke-Free Ontario and $7 million on cessation ads in recent years and yet the number of smokers does not seem to be going down.”

Nor is smoking prevalence likely to go down anytime soon. Excessive tobacco taxation has created a multi-billion dollar black market willing to provide smokers with the product they want at a price they are willing to pay. And, as long as smokers remain the target of unjustified, punitive levels of sin taxes, they will ignore the law intended to make smoking cost prohibitive and buy the cheaper contraband product rather than quit. Government has declared war on tobacco . . . and smokers, by extension, are the enemy.

Says Barrett: “This is an opportunity for the Ontario Liberals to do something positive for the people of Caledonia, for tobacco farmers, and for corner store operators across the province.”

Fat chance. Barrett seems unaware that Ontario's tobacco farmers have already been royally screwed; there's no chance of recovery. And, convenience store owners will see little benefit in a 33% tax reduction.

Smokers have had several years to see and appreciate the full extent of the tax gouging at both the federal and provincial level. And, they know why they're being targeted. They'll be reluctant to return to legal, taxable tobacco product knowing full well that, a year or so down the road, the government extortion will begin anew.

The anti-smoker crowd will continue their efforts to turn smokers into second-class citizens. They'll continue their efforts to denormalize smokers; to turn them into something unclean. They'll continue to demand government funding to finance their moralistic, discriminatory campaign. And, the politicians will continue to kiss the collective ass of the anti-smoker activists because that's the prevailing public sentiment.

The debate on his bill is scheduled for September 24, 2009. But, there will be little actual debate. Members of the legislature will rise one by one to support the continued discrimination against smokers. They will repeat the fraudulent statistics, declare that secondhand smoke kills and that the debate is over and, eventually, the bill will die a slow death as is perhaps intended.

For surely, Barrett is aware that he is proposing a bill with absolutely no chance of success in the current climate of fear-induced hatred created by the anti-smoker cult.

1 comment:

Ralph Baker said...

Hello from Rhode Island USA. There is only ONE cause of death, and it's not SMOKING.

The cause is LIFE!...or to be more technically accurate, Survival At Conception.

Think THAT over for a while.

Thanks, cheers and Merry Christmas from Ralph Baker in Rhode Island USA.