Heavy Lifting - thoughts and web finds by an economist
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Friday, October 27, 2006

Terrifying picture of the day

From this report. What's wrong with the picture? It indicates that someone, or some group, decided that only 12% of the adult population in the United States should be smoking by 2010. Current level is approximately 21%.

Holding population fixed, the reduction of 9% suggests approximately 27 million people will quit smoking in the next four years. That seems awfully high. I am sure that many of that 27 million wish to quit, and perhaps some mix of education, regulation, taxation, and litigation will provide sufficient cost to encourage those individuals to quit - and although they are being "forced" to quit by other people whom they do not know, they might be okay with such authoritarian approaches.

But what about those who do not want to quit, or aren't down with strangers in Washington, Seattle or elsewhere, telling them what to do? Their freedoms are sacrificed for the desires, hopes, and dreams of strangers. The old warning against being too happy when someone else's ox is being gored comes to mind.

Another point is that if 27 million fewer people quit smoking, the reduction in tax revenue will be substantial. The rest of us should be prepared for a reduction in government services or, more likely, an increase in taxation. Oh the howls we shall hear.

Help me out, because I'm not an economist, but I fail to see how tax revenues will go down substantially when smokers quit. Can I assume by this comment that you are assuming that these new former smokers will save most or all of the money they previously spent on tobacco? There's no way that will happen, not in our free-spending, non-saving society.
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