But during a recent meeting of a state budgeting panel, Assemblyman Joseph Cryan, D-Union, worried the smoking ban might affect how much money the state earns from that cigarette tax.
He said the ban, if approved, could cut into cigarette sales, especially in indoor public places such as hotels, bars and restaurants.
Yeah, it will. I thought that was part of the point.
Here's some interesting numbers:
Under New Jersey law, the first $150 million raised by the cigarette tax goes
into a health-care subsidy fund used to help pay for medical care for those
lacking health insurance.
The next $390 million goes into health programs,
the next $50 million to the Economic Development Authority to pay debt on school
projects and the next $45 million to anti-smoking initiatives.
So, we're using the tax on sales of a deadly product to fund health care, school construction and anti-smoking programs. That's nice.
Here's what I'd like to see. If they enact an indoor working-place smoking ban, how many people are estimated to quit smoking? What's the savings to Our Fair State for not having these folks in the health-care system? Cross that with the numbers of the loss of their cigarette-tax revenue. I can't find the numbers or I'd do the math for us.
Let's face it though, I don't care about the tax savings/costs. The ban is simply the right thing to do. Smoking is deadly, there is no doubt about it, and anything we do to discourage this behavior is great. Anything we do to lower exposure to second-hand smoke for nonsmokers is great. Someone's right to smoke doesn't trump my right to good health, not when there's an easily available venue to smoke called "outside" (and "your own home.")
Enact the ban. S1926 and A3424, if you should want to write your legislators to voice your support (or even if you want to voice your disagreement. Write your legislators to let them know how you feel.)