Brooklyn Tobacci

Cigarettes are freaking expensive these days, there’s no doubt. One woman in Brooklyn has grown tired of paying so much money for death sticks, so she’s started planting, growing, and harvesting her own tobacco.

They’re using the power of taxation to coerce behavior. That’s not what taxation is supposed to be for.

Yeah, there are a lot of things taxation isn’t supposed to be used for. Still gets used for them, though. Any over/under’s for how many days it’ll take for this to be illegal?

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10 Responses to “Brooklyn Tobacci”

  1. BrianN says:

    Ask our native American friends

  2. Pitt says:

    I’m really in favor of this. And I don’t think it’ll be made illegal. Basically, if you look at all of the anti-smoking rhetoric recently, its chiefly aimed at the cigarette maufacturers for manipulating their product to increase its addictiveness. Now, some might say that making a product more desirable is what a manufacturer is supposed to do, but in reality, they are trying to create a product that is as addictive as possible so that even when people want to quit using it, often they simply can’t.

    So here comes this woman who is growing pure tobacco, for her own use, and smoking it. She’s not manipulating the nicotene content, she’s not adding the 37 herbs and spices that Phillip Morris puts in their death sticks, and, to top it off, she’s buying local and supporting the local economy. Since she’s weaned off the normal cigarettes, I imagine quitting this stuff would be about as hard as quitting coffee, so she could do it if she wanted to. But as much as I enjoy a nice hot cup of joe in the morning, she probably really looks forward to that first drag of the day.

    Its still legal to brew your own beer, make your own wine, even distill your own booze, provided you don’t engage in selling it. This is no different. No, she can’t smoke pretty much anywhere in public in NYC, but really, you’re not allowed to drink in public, either. Really, she oughtta move to SC.

    I agree with her, taxation shouldn’t be used to coerce behavior, it does get used for that all the freaking time – both in the raising of taxes to stop behavior as well as the lowering of taxes to encourage behavior. And mostly, its got no business doing so.

  3. Dan says:

    @Pitt,

    Basically she’s a bastion for a libertarian (small L) belief system. Just stay the hell away from her and let her grow it in her own damn house. If she needs a license to sell it, fine, but there shouldn’t be a license needed to grow it.

    The only way we’re going to win now, since you can’t reason with the irrational, which is the City Council or any lawmakers…is you have to take the position of giving them the finger.

    Pretty much.

    And homemade beer and wine were the first thing I thought of, even before I thought of marijuana. As it stands she is well within her right. That being said, some politician somewhere will try to win votes by saying, “What about the children?” and trying to make it illegal.

  4. Mike says:

    @ Pitt

    So, how should a society try to mitigate behaviors which are wholly bad for it? How about this for a Libertarian or libertarian concundrum:

    No tobacco = no smoking deaths or diseases related = stupid amounts of money saved in healthcare costs, making the national healthcare debate moot.

    Now just imagine if you added obesity to the equation? Should we try to convince folks to make healthy choices? How?

    Seriously, if we as a society decided to actually do something about these 2 very preventable causes of disease you wouldn’t be forced to purchase health insurance, a public option would be unthinkable, etc.

  5. matt says:

    @Mike

    Well, the “nuclear option” is just to make things entirely illegal. Unfortunately, as you can see from The War On Some Drugs, that doesn’t really work – if we can’t stop people from getting heroin that was shipped halfway around the world, how are we going to ban cigarettes or trans-fats?

    The solution to problems like this is a more educated populace who actually considers the long-term risks associated with a behavior like smoking or eating at Burger King. Good luck with that.

  6. Dan says:

    @matt,

    To quote Denis Leary (who stole it from Bill Hicks), “It doesn’t matter how big the warnings on the cigarettes are; you could have a black pack, with a skull and crossbones on the front, called TUMORS, and smokers would be around the block going, ‘I can’t wait to get my hands on these fucking things! I bet ya get a tumor as soon as you light up!'”

    Whether you like him or can’t stand him, he is absolutely the voice of your typical asshole American who “has a right to do whatever he wants” to his body and will wave the Constitution in your face if you try to change him. They’ve been literally showing black lungs on TV for the last few years with little effect on the population that smokes.

    What about downright not insuring people who are smokers? Any health insurance for somebody who smokes would have to come out of their pocket? I’m sure somebody would cry bigotry of course.

  7. Pitt says:

    @Mike,

    The Libertarian would tell you the government has no business providing health care for anyone. And that health insurance companies have every right to deny coverage or charge astronomical ammounts of money to people who smoke.

    @Dan

    Something is gonna kill you, and honestly, smokers are great for the social security system. I read somewhere (and no, it wasn’t a conservative rag, somewhere like Time or Newsweek) that the actual cost per pack of smoking on society was something like 30 cents. While smokers incurred higher health care costs related to thier habit, a lot of money was saved later on by them not requiring old age care, nursing homes, or social security outlays. So really, any tax on cigarettes over 30 cents per pack (which theyall are, even here in SC) is an overall net benefit to anyone who doesn’t smoke. I imagine there are similar arguments to be made for obese people, though we don’t have sin taxes on McBurgers or Kentucky Fried Chicken (yet).

  8. Mike says:

    @ Matt

    Right. But I wasn’t arguing for the nuclear option. My point is simply that there is a direct relationship between the “get out of my life I can do whatever I want” attitude and one of the larger problems we have as a society. The solution? Society either has to:

    1. Deal with the results of reckless behavior becuase it’s tolerated, or
    2. Try to MITIGATE reckless behaviors so that the results are minimized.

    So, in the case of tobacco, choice 1 is dealing with the results, A.K.A. the healthcare mess we all know and love, or choice 2., try to cut down on destructive behavior by taxing the hell out of it.

    And I also wish to point out the disconnect between saying “none of the above”.

    I guess choice 3 could be the “educate people to make informed blah, blah, blah…” but really, as you said, good luck with that one.

    @ Dan

    “What about downright not insuring people who are smokers? Any health insurance for somebody who smokes would have to come out of their pocket? I’m sure somebody would cry bigotry of course.”

    I actually like that option, but it would sound too much like taking responsibility for one’s own actions and we can’t have that, can we.

  9. Dan says:

    @Pitt,

    Yeah, the issue is that it’s a slippery slope. I think I was being half-sarcastic. Basically, if the gubbmint is insistent on making socialized health care, they ought to at least run it similar to a private model. That means more cost to the individual who chooses to smoke a lot. Of course that would require regulatory commissions and administrators overseeing the use and abuse of any life-shortening substance, and it just makes the mess messier. Nevermind. Leave it to corporations.

    @Mike,

    FUCK NO! This is ‘Merica! Imma go eat a cow and a half just cuz you say I can’t!

  10. Pitt says:

    @Dan,

    One of the concerns about socialized medicine is that it will lead to the government regulating behavior in order to keep costs down. While some may say that some behaviors are “wholly bad”, but as I pointed out earlier, some people, like this woman apparently, enjoy smoking. Some people enjoy skydiving. Some people enjoy drinking. And some people enjoy a big, juicy, greasy Double Double. But some people enjoy none of those things, and think that others shouldn’t either. Really, when you get right down to it, pretty much anything you do affects someone else in some (possibly negative) way, so the only logical answer is clearly

    LEAVE ME THE FUCK ALONE!

    No, actually the solution is, like I mentioned above about the smokers, tax the behavior to the extent that you recoup the externalities (economics-speak) to society. We’re not talking about taxing to regulate behavior (like $5/pack cigarette taxes), just taxes to make society whole.

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