Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Looting tobacco companies

The settlement between two major cigarette manufacturers (Imperial Tobacco Canada and Rothmans, Benson & Hedges) and the federal and provincial governments is a shame. It not only continues the persecution of smokers and their suppliers, it also brings state surveillance and the egoism of state rulers to new heights.

In the early 1990s, after several years of increases in tobacco taxes, cigarette smuggling had increased to the point where perhaps half the cigarettes smoked in Québec were illegal and government revenues from tobacco taxes were in free fall. In February 1994, in order to kill the black market, the federal and provincial governments had to cut tobacco taxes dramatically — by 80% in Québec.

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