A Battle Plan to Fight Nicotine Dependency in South Carolina
The First Battle: Moral Corruption
Legal or not, there is little debate among addiction experts, nicotine truly is more addictive than heroin or cocaine. Imagine political leaders taking a slice of the nicotine addiction profits pie to help finance their re-election while telling our more than 700,000 chemically captive citizens, from whose pockets the nicotine dollars actually came, that the politician's integrity to a pledge of "no new taxes" prevents them from battling to help save their lives.
Such blatant hypocrisy is not just in violation of God's law, and in breach of their oath and promise to protect the public health, it says "yes" to annually enslaving 18,000 of our children, "yes" to the chemical relapse of almost all of the 56.1% of S.C. smokers annually making serious attempts to quit, and "yes" to more than 6,000 annual preventable deaths. It doesn't demonstrate principled convictions but unprincipled self-indulgence willing to betray voter trust in becoming an accomplice to destroying the health, freedom and life expectancy of hundreds of thousands of South Carolinians.
Funding the War
If moral integrity is ever restored to the Legislature and a majority become committed to declaring war on our state's #1 killer - chemical addiction to smoking nictoine - they will require a dependable funding source and a solid battle plan. It is hoped that this page will aid caring Legislators in realizing that victory is not complete simply by substantially increasing the tobacco tax but by devoting a healthy portion of the new revenues toward creating an avenue of escape for the 700,000 captive taxpayers chemically compelled to pay them. Sadly, it is a step that the tobacco industry and the convenience store industry (which derives 39% of its profits from nicotine sales) will never let happen.
The beauty of allowing those hooked on nicotine to fund their own programs and services through a fixed percentage of new nicotine excise taxes is that the amount of revenues generated will always remain proportional to the problem, as reflected by nicotine use rates. When imposing excise tax increases the legislature would be wise to employ cost variance as a means of helping motivate those dependent upon nicotine who falsely believe that they are unable to quit to move toward cleaner forms of nicotine delivery carrying reduced risks.
I'd encourage the legislature to impose a one cent excise tax upon every cigarette sold in South Carolina, five cents upon each ounce of cigars, ten cents upon each ounce of packaged smoking tobacco, one cent upon each ounce of smokeless tobacco, and one-quarter of one cent upon each milligram of nicotine contained in all non-tobacco nicotine products not regulated and approved as smoking cessation aids by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
I'd recommend that one-half of all revenues generated by this excise tax be devoted to statewide nicotine dependency prevention, to be overseen by the Department of Health and Environment Control (DHEC), and one-half toward serious and effective statewide nicotine cessation efforts, to be overseen by the Department of Alcohol and Other Drug Abuse Services (DAODAS).
The above excise taxes would generate roughly $62 million, the amount that the Center for Disease Control (CDC) indicates is needed if we are to wage a first-class effective campaign and claim the upper hand in a war against nicotine dependency in South Carolina.
How can we expect a lone smoking prevention school health educator to stop students from smoking when each is forced to watch one-quarter of their adult role models roll their eyes upon arrival of that first big hit of nicotine? Isn't it like asking them to hang sheets in a hurricane?
If we are to dramatically enhance the odds of sparing our next generation of children and teens a lifetime of battling permanent chemical dependency then we must not only teach them the truth about this amazing chemical, but educate the entire community and alter its collective perception of nicotine dependency. Below is an array of weapons available to a legislature in which a majority of members are serious about battling our state's #1 killer:
- A substantial nicotine excise tax increase to raise the cost of all nicotine products in order to deter youth tobacco use and as incentive to encourage cessation contemplation among our most dependent population, South Carolinians with less than a high school education ( 30.7%)
- Using a fixed percentage of the tax increase to fund high quality statewide prevention and cessation campaigns
- Alternatively, mandate state retail licensing of all over-the-counter tobacco sales with annual license fees being a fixed percentage of prior year's tobacco sales, and with all revenues being used to fund S.C. tobacco control activities
- Enact legislation to remove tobacco products from the neighborhood candy store, grocery store and pharmacies by limiting the sale of tobacco products to business locations that deny youth access, thus treating tobacco with the same seriousness as hard liquor
- Enact legislation requiring that all tobacco ads be removed from all magazines coming into S.C. public schools before allowing youth access
- Amend S.C. Code Section 16-17-504 to expressly authorize local county, city and town ordinances affording greater public health protections, broader coverage, or higher penalties than provided by State law
- An objective oriented and goal driven tobacco control program management structure that is fully integrated
- A statewide ban on indoor smoking in all public buildings in order to both protect all workers from secondhand smoke health risks (without exception) and to create community environments that foster, aid and insulate smoking cessation efforts
- Designate May 31 as "South Carolina No Nicotine Day"
- A statewide ban on cigarette machines as is the law in Idaho and Vermont
- Require all nicotine products, including NRT, to be beyond the reach of youth
- One hour of prevention education per semester in grades 5 -11
- Fund and support statewide youth peer prevention programs such as Rage Against The Haze
- A large annual cash award to the public or private school developing the most creative and effective youth dependency prevention, youth nicotine cessation or youth tobacco control activist program
- A large annual cash award to the college, university or technical school developing the most creative and effective young adult dependency prevention, young adult nicotine cessation or young adult tobacco control activist program
- A statewide mass media de-normalization/ dependency/ cessation campaign
- Visible addiction warning signs at all locations selling nicotine products
- A nicotine prevention/cessation literature collection in all public libraries
- Declare youth attempts to purchase nicotine products illegal as is the law in both N.C. and Georgia
- Declare youth attempts to purchase nicotine products by presenting identification that is false, fraudulent, or belonging to someone else to be punishable by a fine of up to $1,000 as is the law in N.C.
- Give the court authority to sentence youth possessing or attempting to purchase nicotine products to nicotine dependency prevention programs and/or twenty hours of community service as is the law in Georgia
- Give the court authority to sentence youth possessing or attempting to purchase nicotine products, who are repeat offenders or who admit to a loss of autonomy to stop using nicotine, to attend nicotine dependency recovery programs
- Raise the penalty under S.C. Code Section 16-17-500 for any "individual" selling or giving nicotine products to youth from the current maximum of $25 for a first offense to a maximum of $1,000 as is the law in both N.C. and Georgia
- Give nicotine merchants incentive to enforce youth access laws by creating a business owner civil penalty of up to $5,000 as is the law in California
- Amend S.C. Code Section 16-17-502 to declare "all" free nicotine product samples illegal as controlling access, both primary and secondary, in the give-away environment is extremely difficult if not impossible, and studies have shown less than one pack of cigarettes is often sufficient to establish permanent chemical dependency
- Serious graduating penalties for contributing to youth nicotine dependency
- Year-round statewide heath department enforcement of youth nicotine access laws
- Raise the legal age for possession of nicotine products to 21
- Require nicotine merchants to post contacts for local nicotine cessation resources
- End DAODAS nicotine dependency treatment discrimination against our state's #1 killer
- Nicotine dependency recovery programs at the county level
- Periodic free cessation seminars in every city in South Carolina
- Authorization to provide program attendance incentives, including cash
- A $50 state tax credit for attending state approved cessation programs
- Formation of pulmonary, circulatory and cancer health screening partnerships
- Formation of an education partnership with South Carolina's media for presentation of a weekly prevention or cessation article and with SC ETV to present annual two-hour nicotine dependency recovery programs
- Community based long-term cessation reinforcement and support networks
- A statewide toll-free nicotine cessation and support telephone network
- Free public library internet access to dependency recovery resources
- Statewide minimum six-month efficacy standards for all cessation programs and procedures
- Review and approval of all cessation products not regulated by the FDA
- Ongoing surveillance and evaluation of all aspects of South Carolina's dependency battle plan
Let's pray that those calling themselves "leaders", while in part owing their re-election to those profiting by enslaving our youth, soon awaken to the realization that their dependency ignorance and/or raw greed are the greatest impediments to freeing hundreds of thousands of captive South Carolinians.
"The government of the absolute majority is but the government of the strongest interests; and when not effectively checked, is the most tyrannical and oppressive that can be devised."
"A power has risen up in the government greater than the people themselves, consisting of many and various powerful interests, combined in one mass, and held together by the cohesive power of the vast surplus in banks."John C. Calhoun
This page was created by John R. Polito, a nicotine dependency recovery educator, 106 Aldrich Place, Goose Creek, SC 29445 (843) 797-3234. The content of this page is now historical in nature having been last updated on April 2, 2005. John R. Polito accepts full and exclusive responsibility for all representations made on this page. This page's production and display has no association with any other person, organization or entity other than its creator.