Increase Of The Tax On Cigarettes

1039 words - 4 pages

The central issue in the article is whether or not the government should be allowed to increase the tax on cigarettes. Contemporary liberal society is governed on the basis that autonomy, human rights, and liberties will be respected, but also that the government will care for its citizens. Upon careful analysis of addiction to nicotine, the effects this addiction will have on the population, and the obligations of the government, one will find that the government does not have the right to increase taxes on cigarettes.

The government has the right to interfere in tobacco sales as long as the autonomy of the individual is impaired. In this case the government is allowed to interfere, because government is itself established in order to protect the interests of its citizens and be paternalistic. When something impairs the autonomy of individuals and they are no longer able to make rational decisions, the government (and citizens) are required to interfere in the interests of the impaired individuals’ own wellbeing. There is almost no debate that individuals can become addicted to smoking, and addiction impairs autonomy in that the addicted individual cannot be considered rational when they persist in smoking despite evidence that it harms them, those around them, and their environment, all the while taking up chunks of the household income. The detriments brought about by smoking cannot be negated, in my opinion, by marginal benefits such as stress relief, and so a fully rational individual has no reason to smoke. An individual addicted to smoking thus cannot be considered rational because the addiction overrides rationality, and in that capacity the government has right to intervene. Some might argue that it is possible for an individual to overcome addiction solely on willpower, or that some are purely social smokers and it is thus an autonomous choice; however one cannot expect all (or any) individuals in society to have the capacity to break free of an addiction to smoking. This brings into question whether one can quantify willpower or addiction, and I take the stance that they cannot, because willpower and addiction are subject to factors such as filial, social, psychological, and emotional pressure which fluctuate each day, and therefore it is better to dissuade all smokers to reduce the number that become addicted. It is thus not realistic to expect anyone to have capacity to quit – smoking has been analogised with slavery accurately, in that it disallows autonomy , . Clearly there is an imperative for the government to intervene, as the autonomy of smokers is impaired.

The nature of the tax disallows less prosperous individuals who really/autonomously desire to smoke to continue to do so. The idea behind this legislation is that those who cannot support the habit and themselves at the same time are forced to go ‘cold turkey,’ but some who are stubbornly addicted to smoking can be expected to pursue it at the expense of other,...

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