By Robert E. Macdonald
Mayor of Lewiston
Like you, it does my heart good to see millions of college and university snowflakes, augmented by older adult wannabees looking to relive their college days during the 1960s and ’70s, trying to outdo each other in an attempt to rid society of what they deem unacceptable thoughts and behaviors.
They take up what they believe are noble causes, seeking change, but most importantly hope to shine a spotlight on themselves and be recognized for what they consider to be their altruistic behavior.
Now before the Maine State Legislature is a bill aimed at working-class men and women, which, if passed, will deny them their daily stress reliever: puffing tobacco.
This proposed legislation, if passed, would place an additional $1.50 sales tax on a pack of cigarettes. It is sponsored by Rep. Joyce McCreight (D-Harpswell).
I was a bit perplexed that a state representative from a blue-collar, lobster/fishing community would introduce this type of legislation. Then it dawned on me: Harpswell is a coastal community.
Longtime residents probably could no longer afford the high property taxes brought on by the diaspora of the upper three percent of income earners being reunited and settling in Harpswell.
So to all you smokers: are the snowflakes going to take away what you have come to rely on to decompress your stress?
What makes this legislation worth following is the dilemma it places legislators in—especially those enthralled with the title before their name. They are now placed in a position in which they better make the correct decision. If not, the legislative license plates from their vehicle, their legislative seat in Augusta and their per diem will disappear. (Oh, the horror!)
Before continuing, I must inform you that I do not, nor have I ever, smoked. I sincerely believe smoking is detrimental to your health. Although not a libertarian, I believe a person has the right to make a choice and pursue that choice without government or any other outside interference.
Proponents of the bill state this tax will raise significantly the price of cigarettes. Many blue-collar workers will no longer be able to afford them, while others will rethink their willingness to shell out that kind of money for a pack of cigarettes.
They further believe the increase will discourage young people from taking up this unhealthy habit.
This will result in lower cancer, heart and respiratory diseases and deaths. It will reduce the exposure to second-hand smoke to children and pregnant women. Lastly, the money generated by the tax increase can be used to fund smoking-cessation programs.
Opponents of the bill argue the tax would lead to a decrease in cigarette sales in Maine, affecting the bottom line of most Mom & Pop stores, especially near the New Hampshire border. This tax would also increase cigarette sales via the Internet, black market and cigarette smuggling. The tax would have its greatest impact on lower-income and working-class Mainers.
So it appears an alliance has been formed between snowflakes and progressive Democrats. This alliance is poised to take out their frustration over the results of the November election on working people.
They are a nasty bunch.