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:
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."