The Instigator
Republican95
Pro (for)
Losing
0 Points
The Contender
JBlake
Con (against)
Winning
27 Points

Local, State, and Federal Governments should not tax tabacco products.

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Post Voting Period
The voting period for this debate has ended.
after 4 votes the winner is...
JBlake
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 5/20/2009 Category: Politics
Updated: 8 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 2,097 times Debate No: 8365
Debate Rounds (4)
Comments (5)
Votes (4)

 

Republican95

Pro

I'd like to put some definitions on here...

Tax-a sum of money demanded by a government.

Tobacco Products: Cigarettes and chewing tobacco

In Round 1, accept this debate, we'll start debating in round 2.

Best wishes and good luck!
JBlake

Con

As per Pro's instruction, I will not post an argument in this round.

I stand in firm opposition to the resolution: "Local, State, and Federal Governments should not tax tabacco[sic] products."
Debate Round No. 1
Republican95

Pro

Alright, let's get started.

The whole principal behind tobacco tax is flawed. The government taxes it because they can make money off of it. If they we're truly that much against it; they'd just outlaw it. Which doesn't happen in any state.

Also, is it the job of the government to influence our health decisions?

That's all for now...GOOD LUCK!
JBlake

Con

I would like to thank Pro for presenting the opportunity to discuss the topic of tobacco and taxation.

======

There are at least two motives for government officials to implement a tax on tobacco - fiscal and health. The fiscal consideration is by far the more important of the two, although I am not utterly opposed to government attempts to influence citizens to live more healthy lives. Below I will outline the argument for each reason. If I can prove that just one of these is a sufficient reason to warrant a tax on tobacco then I have won this debate.

My opponent's burden is to demonstrate why neither of these is a valid reason to tax tobacco products. It further falls on Pro's shoulders to demonstrate why tobacco should be exempt from taxation.

======

REVENUE
The reason why a government should tax tobacco is simple - revenue. There is no legitimate reason why tobacco should be completely exempt from the taxation that is levied on all other goods and services. Tobacco currently brings in sums of money to federal, state, and local governments. The loss of this revenue would be harmful to future budgets.

HEALTH
This concern is specifically tailored to an increase in tobacco taxation. The negation of this point in no way refutes the value of a low or moderate taxation.
Another reason a government should tax tobacco is to promote public health. Tobacco has been shown to have exceptionally harmful side effects to the smoker's health (lung cancer, &ct.). Additionally, heavy taxes on any item have a tendency to discourage use (http://www.usatoday.com...). Therefore, we can conclude that heavy taxation of tobacco should result in a general reduction in the population of smokers.
This type of action taken by the government is not oppressive because it does not attempt to compel or otherwise force citizens to quit smoking. Instead, it discourages use by making it a more expensive habit.

=======

CONCLUSION
Because local, state, and federal governments (and thus, the people) stand to benefit from the revenue generated by taxes levied on tobacco; or
because public health stands to benefit from a general decline in the population of smokers,
the resolution, that (local, state, and federal) government should not tax tobacco products, is negated.
Debate Round No. 2
Republican95

Pro

Thank you for participating in this debate.

Opponent: There is no legitimate reason why tobacco should be completely exempt from the taxation that is levied on all other goods and services.
I take it that you are referring to sales tax. Well, tobacco products are actually taxed twice. They are taxed once for sales tax and then again for tobacco tax. The problem doesn't fall with sales tax because sales tax is a proportionate tax; in my home state it is 7% on every item. So, it depends on what you buy how much sales tax you pay. On the other hand, tobacco tax is not a proportional tax. In my home town, every pack of cigarettes has a $1.90 charge on every pack, regardless of that pack's cost. So, tobacco tax and sales tax are not comparable.

Opponent: Tobacco currently brings in sums of money to federal, state, and local governments.
You sound very socialistic. So we should tax EVERYTHING since every tax is somehow helping the government out.

Opponent: The loss of this revenue would be harmful to future budgets.
Okay. Well, if the government had less money: maybe they'd quit spending money they already don't have and not spend our children's future?

Opponent: Another reason a government should tax tobacco is to promote public health. Tobacco has been shown to have exceptionally harmful side effects to the smoker's health (lung cancer, &ct.).
McDonald's is bad for people's health (fatty foods, grease, etc.), Cars are bad for people's health (millions of Americans die each year in automobile related accidents), going out at night is bad for people's health (more crime happens after sundown), exercising is bad for people's health (people who exercise get hurt more). Should we tax all these things? I think that you would agree the answer is no. So, why is it fair to single out a single demographic (smokers) for one thing, when hundreds of other things can have negative health effects, like exercising.

Opponent: This type of action taken by the government is not oppressive because it does not attempt to compel or otherwise force citizens to quit smoking.
Or is it putting a burden on lower income families? Most smokers are in the bottom three tax brackets. So, how is taxing them for something that is addictive fair? Why shouldn't we just tax the corporations that produce tobacco products? Because corporations don't pay taxes, they pass those taxes onto citizens.
JBlake

Con

I would like to thank my opponent for his quick response. Unfortunately he did not develop a case of his own. I urge him to take the final opportunity (Round four) to draw up his case for why tobacco should be completely exempt from taxation. If he fails to do so, I have won this debate.

======

I will begin this round by pointing out that Pro has already conceded his position that tobacco should not be taxed. He admitted that tobacco is taxed twice. There is a sales tax and a tobacco tax. He admits that "The problem doesn't fall with sales tax." Following this statement he did not attack the legitimacy of a sales tax being applied to tobacco. Sales tax is, he admits, a form of taxation. Because a sales tax is a form of taxation, I have fulfilled my burden in proving that tobacco should be taxed. Therefore I have already won this debate, unless Pro devotes a portion of his final round to provide a valid reason why tobacco products should be exempt from this sales tax.

======

REVENUE
In response to Pro's attempt at an insult, my status as a moderate socialist is not relevant to the issue at hand. Pro's position is difficult to discern since he did not draw up an argument of his own, contenting himself with merely providing one-sentence responses to my points. He suggests that government should not tax everything. He also suggests that government should take in less money so as to "not spend our children's future." He does not explain how the current government budget spends "our children's future," nor does he explain why tobacco deserves to be exempt from taxation.
Should the government tax everything? No.
Should they levy a sales tax? Yes.
Does tobacco fall within the boundaries of a sales tax on goods and services? Yes.

Since my opponent has offered no reason why the sales tax should be removed, nor has he offered any reason why tobacco should be exempt from said tax, my point stands uncontested.

HEALTH
Pro's first argument is based on the claim that, since not all potentially harmful activities should be taxed, neither should tobacco. Pro used several supposedly unhealthy activities (fast food, cars accidents, curfew, and exercising) to support his claim that unhealthy activities should not be taxed. Of those listed, only fast food can be considered an issue of public health:
- Vehicles in and of themselves are not harmful to the health of individuals who use them. Car accidents are not analogous to the health concerns resulting from smoke inhalation.
- Exercising is a healthy activity, and Pro does not claim otherwise. Like car accidents, people injuring themselves in the course of exercising is not analogous.
- Just as with the last two examples, night crime is not analogous.

Fast food comes the closest to being analogous. Of course, this does not prove that government should not be involved in promoting public health. Fast food could very well be subjected to these so-called "vice taxes." Reasons why it is not currently, and may never be, subject to a "vice tax" is because there is not widespread public support for such a tax. This may stem from some fundamental differences between the two types of products:
- Tobacco is physically and emotionally addictive, while fast food is not.
- Tobacco can cause health problems to non-users (in the form of second hand smoke), while fast food cannot.

So as we can see, fast food is not quite analogous to tobacco in terms of public health considerations either.

Pro's second argument concerning HEALTH is that a tobacco tax places a burden on low income families who smoke. However, this burden on their income only exists if they continue to smoke. If they deem smoking to be of more importance than other monetary concerns then that is their choice. Furthermore, it is precisely these low income families who stand to benefit most from quitting smoking. Obviously, low income families are more likely to have poor or no health care coverage. Therefore, it is a positive thing for the government to promote better health within this bracket.

=====

CONCLUSION
My opponent has conceded that at least one tax (sales tax) should be levied on tobacco. This means that he has abandoned his resolution that (local, state, and federal) government should not tax tobacco. Therefore, Con wins this debate unless Pro reverses himself in the final round and demonstrates a valid reason why tobacco should not be subject to a sales tax.
Debate Round No. 3
Republican95

Pro

First of all, I think that the voters are smart enough to see by when I referred to taxes, I was talking about a tax that was specifically aimed at tobacco products. Unlike you, you are not smart enough to see that that was a simple typo and you are trying to make me look like a complete idiot; when in reality you are the one causing more harm to your own arguments by acting out of total ignorance.

Opponent: He does not explain how the current government budget spends "our children's future," nor does he explain why tobacco deserves to be exempt from taxation.

"Economic Stimulus" is a good answer here. Were 1.9 Trillion dollars in the hole, and we're borrowing it from China and other countries each and every day: this will certainly lead to our children having to pay for the mistakes we made.

Opponent: Should the government tax everything? No.
Well, if we tax tobacco what is going to stop us from taxing other items ten years in the future that today we would never tax? If you tear down one wall, what's going to stop you from tearing down the next?

Opponent: Vehicles in and of themselves are not harmful to the health of individuals who use them. Car accidents are not analogous to the health concerns resulting from smoke inhalation.
I beg to differ. Not only do cars kill thousands of motorists each year, but they also emit tons of carbon into the atmosphere which lowers our air quality and has lead to an increase of respiratory diseases. So, it does affect those who don't drive cars. So, shouldn't it be taxed?

Opponent: Exercising is a healthy activity, and Pro does not claim otherwise. Like car accidents, people injuring themselves in the course of exercising is not analogous.
Actually, people who injure themselves clog our hospitals and taxpayers (in many cases) have to pay for them. So, isn't this harm the common good?

Opponent: Just as with the last two examples, night crime is not analogous.
Actually, people who commit night crime are prosecuted and many of them end in prison. While in prison, taxpayers have to pay for their food, shelter, etc. So, doesn't that harm all?

Opponent: Tobacco can cause health problems to non-users (in the form of second hand smoke), while fast food cannot.
Actually, people with diseases related to their eating habits (heart disease, high cholesterol, etc.) do effect others who do not eat unhealthy because taxpayers are put in the position of having to pay for them when they end up in a hospital.

Opponent: Tobacco is physically and emotionally addictive, while fast food is not.
I do agree that fast food is not PHYSICALLY and EMOTIONALLY addictive, but they are generally speaking "addictive". Generally speaking, fast food is very cheap and very "fast". Since many people cannot afford the more healthy food and not the time to purchase and prepare it, they have to resort to fast food.

Opponent: However, this burden on their income only exists if they continue to smoke. If they deem smoking to be of more importance than other monetary concerns then that is their choice.
However, punishing those with a tax that they may not be able to afford is unproductive. Wouldn't state-funded education programs about the health problems associated with smoking work better and not drain those that have little money to spare.

MY OWN ARGUMENT:

The state doesn't have the power to dictate the health decisions that its citizens make. If citizens wish to smoke, the government shouldn't punish them with a tax. I understand that second-hand smoke is a serious problem, but if it really bothered you that much then why don't you just lock yourself up in your house and only come out wearing oxygen masks. The government, if they we're really all that against tobacco, why don't they just outlaw it?

The fiscals arguments of my opponent are completely flawed. He sees that the governments main job is to make money and spend it. I do not have a problem with taxes, I have a problem with unjust taxes.
JBlake

Con

I find it rather unfortunate that my opponent has devolved this debate into making personal attacks against me. It is no fault of my own that he was unclear with his resolution and first round post. I should not be expected to automatically know that by "should not tax tobacco products" that he meant "should not tax tobacco products extra." Indeed, the resolution and definition he provided for 'tax' suggest that he meant to debate a tax on tobacco products at all, not on the so-called 'vice tax.' I hope that he will learn to be more clear on his resolution and draw up his own case in the first round in the future, rather than personally insult his opponents.

That being said, I have already won this debate. Rather than attempting to provide a valid reason why tobacco should be completely exempt from taxation. Therefore, by omission, he concedes that tobacco should be taxed (by a sales tax).

Although I have already won this debate, I will offer a rebuttal to his case. Then I will respond to each of his rebuttals to my points. Finally, I will offer my concluding statement.

=======

My opponent's case makes three claims, which are as follows:
1. Citizens should be allowed to make their own decisions regarding health concerns. Government should not levy 'vice taxes' like that on tobacco to "punish" unhealthy behavior.
2. Second hand smoke is a problem. However, people who wish to avoid it should avoid public places or wear oxygen masks.
3. If the government were against tobacco they should just outlaw it.

There are fundamental flaws with each of these statements, which I will outline in the same order below:
1. Vice taxes do not stop people from making their own decisions regarding health. People are free to choose to continue with their unhealthy behavior. The government is not prohibiting its use by levying a vice tax, it is merely discouraging use by making it a more expensive habit.

2. This claim is not relevant to the issue of taxation on tobacco. It would be better placed in a debate on smoking in public places. However, I will still address it.
I am glad that Pro admits that second hand smoke is a serious problem deserving of being addressed. The problem with his subsequent claim is that non-smokers are not forcing anything unhealthy on smokers by forcing them out of public areas. Smokers, on the other hand, are forcing non-smokers to ingest chemicals that are proven to be harmful to their bodies. Of course, this is an infringement on the rights of the non-smoker and thus deserving of minor regulation.

3. Prohibition of tobacco would trample on the property rights of U.S. citizens. Tobacco prohibition would be overstepping the boundaries on government to prohibit its citizens to do with their bodies as they please, so long as it does not violate the rights of other citizens.

Conclusion of rebuttal:
I agree that it is outside the boundaries of a government to dictate the health decisions made by its citizens. It is not, however, outside their boundaries to promote positive health welfare of its citizens by lawful means. Since the duly elected state is permitted to levy taxes, levying a tax on unhealthy products falls within their boundaries.

======

I will quote my opponent's rebuttals, then offer a response.

a) "Well, if we tax tobacco what is going to stop us from taxing other items ten years in the future that today we would never tax? If you tear down one wall, what's going to stop you from tearing down the next?"

>> Here it is important to note that tobacco, alcohol and other so-called "vices" have been subjected to an extra tax without the world devolving into oppressive taxes on everything, as Pro seems to imply. The slope is not quite as slippery as my opponent would have you think.

b) "Not only do cars kill thousands of motorists each year, but they also emit tons of carbon into the atmosphere which lowers our air quality and has lead to an increase of respiratory diseases. So, it does affect those who don't drive cars. So, shouldn't it be taxed?"

>> That does not prove that tobacco should not be subjected to taxation, only that perhaps the government should consider higher fuel standards, alternate fuel options, or a tax on carbon emissions. However, this is still not analogous because vehicles provide a positive service to humanity in terms of quicker transportation, communication, shipping, &ct. Tobacco products, on the other hand, provide almost no positive service to individual users or to the general public. The negative far outweighs the positive.

c) "people who injure themselves clog our hospitals and taxpayers (in many cases) have to pay for them. So, isn't this harm the common good?"

>> It should not be considered a negative attribute of exercisers that their injuring "clog up our hospitals." As a matter of fact, the main purpose of a hospital is to provide medical care to people who need it. Physical injuries certainly qualify as people who are in need of medical care. I am not sure where Pro gets the idea that hospital patients use taxpayers' dollars for their care. A very small proportion of people do (medicare, medicaid, and a small proportion of those without insurance that are in need of emergency care). The rest pay for their medical care through payments to their insurance companies. Also, exercising provides far greater positives to the exerciser. In most cases, the improved health of the individual will result in less need for medical attention (better heart health, blood pressure, &ct.).

d) "Actually, people who commit night crime are prosecuted and many of them end in prison. While in prison, taxpayers have to pay for their food, shelter, etc. So, doesn't that harm all?"

>> Crime is not analogous to smoking because in most cases it does not harm the health of the criminal or the victims. Furthermore, there are plenty of measures already taken by the government to reduce/prevent crimes from taking place.

e) "Actually, people with diseases related to their eating habits (heart disease, high cholesterol, etc.) do effect others who do not eat unhealthy because taxpayers are put in the position of having to pay for them when they end up in a hospital."

>> As I have already mentioned, tax payers do not pay for healthcare under the current system. Therefore, it is not analogous.

f) "I do agree that fast food is not PHYSICALLY and EMOTIONALLY addictive, but they are generally speaking "addictive".

>> Pro does not offer any sources to support this positive claim, so we cannot evaluate it's truth value. Either way, it is not relevant to the issue of tobacco taxation.

g) "However, punishing those with a tax that they may not be able to afford is unproductive. Wouldn't state-funded education programs about the health problems associated with smoking work better and not drain those that have little money to spare."

>> The government already funds such education programs. There is no valid reason yet proposed by Pro that suggests that both should not work side-by-side to promote better public health.

======

CONCLUSION
The greatest consideration in voting should be Pro's concession that there should indeed be a tax on tobacco. As a result, he has abandoned his resolution. Therefore, I urge the audience to vote CON.
Debate Round No. 4
5 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 5 records.
Posted by sherlockmethod 8 years ago
sherlockmethod
Pro's conduct was not very good. The rant concerning the resolution was ill advised.
Pro used some poor analogies
I did not see much use of sources.

con was not perfect but did better than pro on this one.
Posted by wjmelements 8 years ago
wjmelements
"they also emit tons of carbon into the atmosphere which lowers our air quality"
FALSE

"There is no legitimate reason why tobacco should be completely exempt from the taxation that is levied on all other goods and services."

STOP HERE!

My vote to CON.
B/A: PRO
CONDUCT: CON (the "socialist" thing... and then...)
S+G: TIE
ARGUMENTS: CON (the concession, and weak arguments overall)
SOURCES: CON (PRO used no sources)
Posted by wjmelements 8 years ago
wjmelements
"You sound very socialistic."

That is NOT an argument.
Posted by Ragnar_Rahl 8 years ago
Ragnar_Rahl
Don't go getting annoyed because you set your own trap and then sprung it. Learn from it. Or, better yet, stop thinking anything should be taxed :).
Posted by JBlake 8 years ago
JBlake
Was there really a need to devolve into personal attacks merely because you failed to properly word your resolution?

How am I, or anyone else, supposed to know that you mean a tobacco-specific tax when you do not identify it either in your resolution or in your definitions? Hopefully this will outline the need to be more clear in your resolution in the future.
4 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 4 records.
Vote Placed by sherlockmethod 8 years ago
sherlockmethod
Republican95JBlakeTied
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Vote Placed by thejudgeisgod 8 years ago
thejudgeisgod
Republican95JBlakeTied
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Vote Placed by wjmelements 8 years ago
wjmelements
Republican95JBlakeTied
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Vote Placed by JBlake 8 years ago
JBlake
Republican95JBlakeTied
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