Terrilyn Simpson: Smokers? Why Not Tax the Obese?

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Terrilyn Simpson: Smokers? Why Not Tax the Obese?

Smirkin' Over Smoke Tax

by Terrilyn Simpson
(Common Sense Independent)

[img]http://janus.state.me.us/house/photo123/hayetm.jpg[/img]
[i]State Rep. Terry Hayes[/i]

Terry Hayes is a big woman. That would not ordinarily be an issue pertinent to noting regarding a state legislator, but Maine Representative Terry Hayes (D-Buckfield) has indicated if she can't outlaw the bad and unhealthful habits of the state's citizenry, she'll make it too expensive to have them -- and add to the state coffers to boot.

Hayes is perhaps being selectively discriminatory, however.

Hayes was talking about cigarettes recently -- specifically about adding an additional dollar a pack tax to cigarettes, on top of the current two dollars a pack tax, so that the stupid people of the state who smoke will no longer be able to afford to do so -- as proposed in LD 499 by Governor John Baldacci.

Apparently giddy at the prospect of an opportunity to legislate the personal habits of constituents, Hayes was just a'smirkin' and a'twitterin'. She scoffed at the idea that smokers would cross the state line into New Hampshire where the tax on cigarettes is just 80 cents a pack. Nonsense. She shrugged off concerns of storeowners that they couldn't take another hit in a state whose bureaucracy had been kicking small business owners below the belt harder than ever since the first inauguration of the current governor.

Hayes' high-handed stance made one sit up and take notice. She held up a small piece of paper by one corner as if it were a square of soiled toilet tissue. It was an informational leaflet handed her by a storeowner, she noted offhandedly. Her smug attitude and gleeful remarks suggested amusement that the guy -- a constituent -- was foolish enough to think she'd care if he, and other small storeowners, are forced to lock up and go away because they'll have no way to replace the cigarette portion of store revenue if the cigarette tax increase passes. "I have no problem with that," she announced. She appeared unfazed that the increase would make Maine's tax the highest in the country.

Never mind if customers who drop by to pick up a pack and typically add a handful of convenience store incidentals cease the whole ritual. Ignore the "floor tax" which will almost immediately hit store owners, meaning they'll have to pay the increased tax upfront on all cigarettes already in their store inventory. It can mean thousands of dollars instantly due the state for the proprietor of even a small store.

Whatever it takes to help the people, nodded Hayes knowingly. Private enterprise is not, after all, likely to be Hayes' strong point. Though publicly a legislator of the people, privately Hayes' professional income is derived from a state bureaucratic source. Working as a guardian ad litem -- to determine the fate of children in custody and child protective battles -- Hayes is professionally dependent on the largesse of the Maine court system and the Maine Department of Health and Human Services. Her outspoken support for the cigarette tax would undoubtedly enhance her position with the latter.

The cavalier attitude exhibited toward the potential failure of small business enterprises was no less pronounced when it came to trotting out figures to support her stance. When it was pointed out during the discussion that any one dollar a pack increase would result in the levying of an additional five cents, Hayes voiced disagreement. But when it was pointed out that ten cents sales tax is currently charged on the two dollar excise tax already levied on each pack, and that the practice would certainly continue with another one dollar increase, Hayes quickly changed the subject and went on to enthusiastically pronounce that well, anyway........ that, umph...... that something has to be done about the $12 in health costs currently incurred by Maine for each pack of cigarettes consumed by Maine smokers. She cited no source for the figure which is estimated at significantly lower amounts by officials with more expertise -- though there seems to be disparity even in those quarters.

For instance, approximately a year and a half ago, Maine Public Health Director Dora Mills cited the healthcare toll to the state at $8 a pack while recently, Maine Medical Association's executive vice president, Gordon Smith, was quoted as giving a $7 a pack figure for medical costs.

Though the citizens of the state still technically possess the legal right to smoke, acknowledged Hayes, she could help move the ability to exercise that right toward a financial impossibility -- until she and cohorts find a way to ban smokes from the state completely. Just make "˜em too expensive for anyone to get, she chortled.

What a concept -- a legislator on a mission to save the people of the state from their own bad judgment -- as determined by Hayes and political allies -- which leads to the topic of state girth. In Maine, big has become as bad as smoke.

A study released in 2005 by the Beacon Hill Institute at Suffolk University claimed that Maine has the highest obesity rate in New England, with 59 percent of adults overweight or obese, and 15 percent of Maine's youth categorized likewise. Subsequently, according to the study, in 2003, Maine spent $273 per person on obesity related costs -- the 17th highest amount in the US.

The study referenced a number of potential steps to battle the Maine bulge. It concluded, however, that "the solution to Maine's obesity problem lies with self-discipline on the part of its residents rather than a costly legislative program that cannot guarantee results."

The conclusion would not, of course, be in keeping with the Hayes approach of overriding the rights of the individual to allow them to be cared for by bureaucrats and politicians. Which brings the issue back to the activism theorizing of Representative Hayes. Using her logic, why not tax the obese?

If you're overweight, and at risk for a whole bunch of health problems, it's obvious that you're becoming a burden to the state, that you don't need all the food you're eating and that it's up to the state to take care of you. There's way more overweight people in the state than smokers even
-- think of the revenue. Just establish the ideal weight for all the heights of all the citizenry, notify the zealots at the Department of Health and Human Services to polish up their policing helmets and launch a new for-the-good-of-the-citizenry awareness campaign and then institute a SYSTEM.

If you weigh too much, your food will be taxed. Period. Non-complying grocers, cashiers and chubby snack food junkies will be fined -- big time.

There could be huge weigh-in rooms at DHHS offices all around the state. It would likely even provide some opportunities to snag some kids from parents who've allowed their offspring too many trips to the trough.

So step up to the scales, Representative Hayes -- your constituents are worried about you and want to save you from yourself -- before the taxpayers end up having to pick up the tab for your over-consumption.

Terrilyn Simpson
Common Sense Independent
PO Box 408
Augusta, Maine 04332
207-395-2055

[i]copyright 2007
No portion of this article may be reproduced in any form without permission from the editor.[/i]

LMD
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Terrilyn Simpson: Smokers? Why Not Tax the Obese?

This is a great article by Ms. Simpson. I couldn't agree more.

Butt (sic), I'll bet you, [i]dollars to doughnuts[/i] (mmmm...doughnuts) the response by beautiful persons like Rep. Terry Hayes to this article will be as follows:

"It is a proven fact that smoking not only affects the smoker, but secondhand smoke KILLS innocent non-smokers.

While obesity is indeed a problem, it is an individual problem. There is no scientific proof supporting the theory that secondhand fat KILLS."

Martin
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Terrilyn Simpson: Smokers? Why Not Tax the Obese?

The problem is how to quantify the tax:

Is it by the calorie consumed?
By the fat grams consumed?
By the slabs of bacon per morning?
By the number of pounds overweight?
By the waist measurement at the gut?
By the square inch of body surface area?

...or by the pure [i]gross-out factor[/i] of their appearance?

[img]http://www.ssqq.com/romance/images/fat%20guy.jpg[/img]

Naran
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Terrilyn Simpson: Smokers? Why Not Tax the Obese?

LMD - obese people do kill other people - look at the lovely fellow above. If you were trying to move him, and he fell on you, my gosh, call the coroner! [i]WE NEED A GOVERNMENT STUDY! OBESITY FALLOUT EQUALS SECOND-HAND DEATH![/i]

Martin - that is truly a revolting, disgusting, abhorrent photo.[size=9] (where'd you find it?)
:wink:[/size]

Tony Bessey
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Terrilyn Simpson: Smokers? Why Not Tax the Obese?

Poor chair.

LMD
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Terrilyn Simpson: Smokers? Why Not Tax the Obese?

OK, so I spoke too soon.
There seems to be some evidence that while secondhand fat may not KILL, it is the result of living with a smoker:
[url=http://www.findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m1175/is_5_33/ai_66380404]Seco... Fat[/url]
:roll:
I bow to the superior intellect of Rep Hayes who is only trying to kill two birds with one stone here...
:roll:
Oh brother, here we go with another link of secondhand smoke to secondhand fat:
[url=http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2005/08/01/health/main713231.shtml]Study Links Smoke To Obesity/Secondhand Smoke A Risk Factor For Metabolic Syndrome[/url]

JBC
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Terrilyn Simpson: Smokers? Why Not Tax the Obese?

[quote]“Science has proven that there is no risk-free level of exposure to fat people. Let me say that again: There is no safe level of exposure to fat people,” Dr. Richard H. Carmona, U.S. Surgeon General, said in prepared remarks. “Only fat-free environments effectively protect thin people from fat exposure in indoor spaces,” he said.[/quote]

http://fatgrrl.com/?p=194

[quote]It's not just a threat to fat people anymore! No, according to CSI, other people's fat can kill you! Yes, indeed, last night's "victim" was smothered to death by his fat lover. The woman had been drinking, and the alcohol reacted with her medications for diabetes and hypertension (because all fat people are diabetic and hypertensive, don't you know?) causing her to pass out on top of him, resulting in his death.[/quote]

http://feh-muh-nist.blogspot.com/2005/02/dangers-of-obesity.html

bogeys
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Terrilyn Simpson: Smokers? Why Not Tax the Obese?

After watching the movie "Borat" over the weekend, I think JBC might be on to something. :shock:

Corvus
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Terrilyn Simpson: Smokers? Why Not Tax the Obese?

:shock: Al Diamon has really let himself go.

Editor
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Terrilyn Simpson: Smokers? Why Not Tax the Obese?

[i]Editor’s Note: Terrilyn Simpson asked me to post her comments.[/i]

I object to having the photo of the grotesquely overweight man posted just below -- and therefore somewhat associated with -- my article. The picture sets a tone that detracts from any serious discussion -- and I believe this topic merits some very serious discussion.

[i]Terrilyn Simpson, author of SMIRKIN' OVER SMOKE TAX
(Common Sense Independent)[/i]

Naran
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Terrilyn Simpson: Smokers? Why Not Tax the Obese?

I object to Ms. Simpson's objections. I find them objectionable.

KathyP
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Terrilyn Simpson: Smokers? Why Not Tax the Obese?

It was only a matter of time before fatties were targeted next. Who's next in not being deemed acceptable to society? Tell you what I'd like to see outlawed....stinky perfume. That is all for my rant on this.

cover_maine
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Terrilyn Simpson: Smokers? Why Not Tax the Obese?

Why not tax people with AIDs or Cancer? We can probably dig out data of how much more they cost society....so they should pay for it.

And while we're at it, let's tax ugly people. No particular reason behind it, other than the beautiful people should pay less and ugly people deserve to pay more.

In the meantime we consider a tax break for anyone who stays in Maine to get a college degree. Personally, I would prefer a tax break for everyone who chooses to live here....it's a lot simpler and, by the way, don't we all deserve it????

(And call me a prude if you want, but I agree with the editor on the picture posting. I don't need to choke on my coffee seeing the fellow who was so tubby, that when he rolled over he found himself in Portsmouth!)

Bob MacGregor
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Terrilyn Simpson: Smokers? Why Not Tax the Obese?

Where would AMG be without pictures, relevant or not to the story? 8)

KathyP
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Terrilyn Simpson: Smokers? Why Not Tax the Obese?

I thought that picture was/is great! We are who we are. I know this sounds totally gay (I mean in the old fashioned way "gay" used to mean!) but it really is what's inside that counts.

Bob MacGregor
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Terrilyn Simpson: Smokers? Why Not Tax the Obese?

And there is [i]a lot[/i] inside there...............

LMD
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Terrilyn Simpson: Smokers? Why Not Tax the Obese?

Here's an interesting study:
[url=http://ecommons.txstate.edu/arp/29/]An Evaluation of the Snack Tax on the Obesity Rate in Maine[/url]
[quote]Abstract:
...The state of Maine had a snack tax from 1991 to 2001...provides a setting to evaluate...impact of taxing snacks, pastries, and soft drinks on a state’s obesity rate.
...As a pricing strategy, healthy foods can be subsidized to increase consumption, or unhealthy foods can be taxed to increase prices in order to discourage consumption.
...the findings did not provide any significant results for independent variables that could help identify and interpret a relationship between the snack tax and obesity rates for Maine. [/quote]
[url=http://usgovinfo.about.com/cs/consumer/a/aathinner.htm]Can legislation prevent obesity in America?[/url]
[url=http://www.taxfoundation.org/blog/show/760.html]Swatting the Obesity Fly with the Tax Sledgehammer[/url]
[quote]If the true goal were weight reduction, why not take more direct steps toward that—for example, by putting taxpayers on a scale upon driver's license renewal and assessing a "weight penalty"?[/quote]

woodcanoe
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Terrilyn Simpson: Smokers? Why Not Tax the Obese?

The burden on the healthcare system due to obesity far outweighs that of smoking and drinking both!

...."Obesity has roughly the same association with chronic health conditions as does twenty years' aging; this greatly exceeds the associations of smoking or problem drinking. Utilization effects mirrors the health effects. Obesity is associated with a 36 percent increase in inpatient and outpatient spending and a 77 percent increase in medications, compared with a 21 percent increase in inpatient and outpatient spending and a 28 percent increase in medications for current smokers"...

[url=http://content.healthaffairs.org/cgi/content/abstract/21/2/245]Roland Sturm[/url]

There are links to other scholarly articles on this subject in the above.

Rep Hayes is a (fat) hypocritical bigot. She is more than willing to gore someone else's ox but not her own of course.

She, and those in Augusta who arrogantly think like her, possessed of a holier than thou attitude, are the reason the State
of Maine is in the dung heap that it is.

It would be very refreshing to have an HONEST debate of this issue rather than the one sided one that prevails.

Editor
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Terrilyn Simpson: Smokers? Why Not Tax the Obese?

So maybe Terrilyn is giving new meaning to the Scale of Justice!

skf

LMD
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Terrilyn Simpson: Smokers? Why Not Tax the Obese?

There will never be an honest debate about 'risk behaviors' because some are considered politically correct; others are not. Smoking is logical to tax because people have been duped into believing that secondhand smoke is as deadly as "firsthand" smoking.

Again, taxing fat people carries no weight because no one has ever died from the effects of secondhand fat. (That's the major excuse the tobacco tax proponents will give).

Not to make further light of this serious issue, but there are scientific reasons for maintaining bulk:
[url=http://www.the-scientist.com/article/display/14885/]Fat Tax, A Recipe for a Healthy Population?[/url]
by Phillip J. Hunter, [i]The Scientist[/i] 2004, 18(15):68
[i]A blunt fiscal instrument can't sculpt an effective policy[/i]
[quote]PROBLEM 7
Why should fat people be stigmatized as weak-willed and unhealthy?...
...there are benefits to bulk. London pub owner Andy Fordham, weighing in at 30 stones (420 pounds), became world darts champion early in 2004. [i]His size was considered an asset, serving to dampen undesirable twitches in the arm in the same way concrete stabilizes a centrifuge.[/i][/quote]

Mainelion
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Terrilyn Simpson: Smokers? Why Not Tax the Obese?

A tax on weight would be discriminatory against us tall people.

BMI is also not a prefect indication of obesity. Micheal Jordan was, and I'm sure is, considered overwieght using the BMI (although just barely). I doubt that anyone would consider him fat.

All of this talk about how to "fairly tax" people for lifestyle just helps to obscure the problem that we are seriously overtaxed in Maine.

woodcanoe
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Terrilyn Simpson: Smokers? Why Not Tax the Obese?

LMD:

..."taxing fat people carries no weight"...

Wonderful pun!

realrepublican
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second hand fat ??

While obesity is indeed a problem, it is an individual problem. There is no scientific proof supporting the theory that secondhand fat KILLS."

ever see some of these fat freeloaders at the grocery store ?? their carts are full of fatty foods while their kid is drooling with chocolate all over his face over the double large milky way at the checkout line........
most fat people raise fat lazy children .........not always but many times and also second hand smoke does NOT always kill people ........................
tax big macs and humpty dumpty chips not Marlboro's smokers get crushed enough already by the crooks in Augusta.............................

realrepublican
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also noted

i have a gut on me i have nothing personal against fat people ..................just the ones that dont work ................
i also dont care for skinny people who dont work ........................

woodcanoe
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Terrilyn Simpson: Smokers? Why Not Tax the Obese?

The MAJOR argument against smoking is the burden it places on the healthcare system. That is the argument that is used in Maine every time a tax increase is proposed.

As I have noted above the burden on the healthcare system due to obesity is far greater.

If we are going to debate what causes the most health problems lets be honest in the debate.

Maybe even the Maine Legislature would be honest itself.

DalekMagi
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Terrilyn Simpson: Smokers? Why Not Tax the Obese?

How is it creatures like Ms. Hayes get elected? A majority of her constituents must agree with her, or she wouldn't be in power. If they disagree with her, why in God's name are they voting for her?!?

A lot of candidates like this get no serious opponents during elections. That is how they stay in power. The other side throws in some limp-noodle who doesn't say much and gets defeated, or they run someone who pretends to be just like her (except issue #3 or #5, etc...) and they get defeated. There is no serious choice in a lot of races, so we get stuck with Communists!

woodcanoe
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Terrilyn Simpson: Smokers? Why Not Tax the Obese?

Rep Hayes is a hypocrite because, while whining about the health care burden due to smoking, she is engaged in the choice of eating more than she should, a choice which will have a much greater cost to the health care system. See the Roland Sturm paper I posted a link to earlier.

I am neither convinced, or not convinced of the true dangers of second hand smoke (which this thread is not about anyway). I liken that debate to that of global warming. There are true believers and then there are skeptics. And there is very little good unbiased scientific study.

When a scientific study is commissioned by an anti-smoking group one has to wonder how good the science is. Grant money funds most research these days and donors may seek scientists that support their agenda or scientists may develop a study that supports the agenda of the grant provider as you do NOT bite the hand that feeds you.

Just from anectdotal evidence alone at the very least I suspect it is quite likely that negative effects from second hand smoke are far less than those from smoking directly.

I would like to see the results of truly honest studies of this issue. I am talking about studies that do not start with a preordained conclusion and then make the science fit.

As far as the CDC goes it, like all government entities, can be, and is, a political animal. CDC has played a major role in the anti gun debate in the past and is certainly capable of playing a similar role in the tobacco debate.

One thing of which there seems little doubt is that the cost to society of obesity outweighs just about any other vice except perhaps for drug useage. And even that is debatable as IV drug abusers do not tend to live very long.

Rep Hayes, you are costing me money. I would suggest that you get on a good weight control program before you criticize others.

Your lack of concern for Maine businesses is simply astounding also!

angler.k
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Terrilyn Simpson: Smokers? Why Not Tax the Obese?

We need a nosy do-gooder tax. How much does their kind of "help" cost us each year?

We need to focus on the fact that the tax system shouldn't be used to force us to comply with the governments wishes. To worry about taxing X as opposed to Y doesn't solve the problem. The tax system is supposed to fund necessary social services. We've gone so far beyond that concept that it's lost in the history books.

Mike Travers
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Terrilyn Simpson: Smokers? Why Not Tax the Obese?

Some of you guys are mixing your Terrys with your Terrilynns. Simpson is the author of the excellent expose, Hayes is the [obese] author of the latest anti-smoking vendetta.

UncleJaque
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Now that the cigarette tax

Now that the cigarette tax might be headed for another big hike, this might bear revisitation.

What I'd really like to know is what happened to Ms. Terrilyn M. Simpson, Investigative Journalist and Author of "Common Sense Independent"? The CSI is still on line but her phone seems to have been disconnected, she has not replied to my e mails for about 10 months now, and considering all of the very corrupt and powerful enemies she made over at the Dept. of Hell & Human Sacrifice, we are beginning to worry a bit.

Is there anyone out there who might be able to advise as to her status and well being?

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