Does anyone really believe a teen or 20 something that smokes is going to kick the habit because of commercials blaring “the fact” non-smokers make $10,000 more a year than smokers?
This little tidbit of banal research was blared on MTV the other night by the fine people who make a living off cigarette taxes by trying to come up with creative new ways for smokers to quit.
Ok, ok. I don’t usually watch MTV but I was flipping through channels after finishing a book when I came across “Catfish: The TV Show”. If you’ve never seen the program — it is a reality documentary that brings together people who are deep into online dating that have never seen each other — let’s just say it’s a notch or two above the "Jerry Springer Show" in terms of how people will share their innermost secrets that 40 years ago would have embarrassed most people to death just so they can get 15 minutes of fame.
The show, however, is more rooted in common sense than the anti-cigarette commercials. The commercials and other anti-smoking campaigns that you see are funded in part by a $1.01 per pack federal sales tax on cigarettes as well as an .87 cent per pack California tax.
Obviously the anti-smoking bureaucracy propped up by taxes on cigarette smokers have a lot of money to burn if they can underwrite such dubious studies and commercials.
Does anyone really believe that if a current smoker gave up cigarettes they’d soon be making $10,000 more annually?
At close to $5 a pack in California you could legitimately argue a pack-a-day smoker would have $1,820 more in their pockets in a year if they gave them up. But to argue they will make $10,000 more a year is an insult to their intelligence.
Maybe the anti-cigarette bureaucrats that earn their paychecks pumping out such pap believe it is OK to pander to the demographics they believe watch “Catfish: The TV Show” on MTV.
In doing so, however, they open the door to some serious questions.
For example, why doesn’t someone fund a study to see if cocaine users make more money than non-cocaine users? With the number of wealthy socialites, musicians, actors, celebrities and such using cocaine someone from the Mexican drug cartel could probably commission a study that shows cocaine users make more money than non-cocaine users.
The same thing probably could be proven about cigars.
Heck, it’s probably a sure bet that regular cognac drinkers make more money than those who don’t drink cognac.
Do not misunderstand the point. I abhor smoking, I have never smoked. I never will. I am also 100 percent convinced that smoking is not good for you.
But worse than any health impacts are when government-financed campaigns using tax dollars regardless of the source use precarious assertions or even outright falsehoods to try and persuade or hammer people who pay taxes into submission.
It is clear that the government doesn’t hold smokers in high esteem. They like to talk about tobacco companies using advertising to brainwash smokers but then they turn around and play the same game.
Why not stick with the gore? The cancer victim smoking through their throat. The smoker coughing up a lung on their death bed asking for another smoke. The person using a walker wheezing between steps and puffs. It’s MTV. If the viewers can stomach half of what is on the network, realistic commercials against smoking would be no big deal.
And that is exactly the problem. Such graphic presentations of reality aren’t doing the trick. While cigarette smoking is at record lows, it is still higher among teens and young adults (18-24 and 25-44) than older age group, according to the Center for Disease Control. That may be because older smokers tend to die off quicker than older non-smokers.
The CDC, by the way, states that 34 percent of all adults with GED certificates smoke as opposed to 16 percent of adults with an associate’s degree. Roughly 3 percent of adults with graduate degrees smoke. And — surprise, surprise — 26 percent of adults below poverty smoke. The CDC tosses in another statistic — 33 percent more of the gay/lesbian population smoke than the straight population does.
While this tells you smokers as a whole would make less than non-smokers it also tells you there are socio-economic factors at play.
It appears logical to conclude smokers make less money given the level of education of those smoking.
But it is a bald-face lie to assert that giving up smoking means a typical smoker will make $10,000 more a year. They might if — and it’s a big if — if they get a degree, if they find a job that fits the degree and pays accordingly, and if they are young enough to have increased earning potential.
Given the commercial is on MTV we’ll assume they are young enough.
The bottom line is the government is now engaging in misleading advertising regarding cigarette smoking. It is something they have accused the tobacco industry of doing for years.
And spare the self-righteousness that the ends justify the means. You can dress it up in all the splashy graphics you want but the government misleading someone intentionally is still what it is — dishonest, demeaning and Orwellian.