DJ: Why doesn't government ban cigarettes? They can't afford it

CINCINNATI -- A couple weeks back, the acting U.S. Surgeon General cut through the haze with a 980-page report about cigarettes.

“One in 13 children could see their lives shortened by smoking unless the nation takes more aggressive action to end the tobacco epidemic," said Dr. Boris Lushniak. "Enough is enough.”

Any guesses as to how much taxpayers were dunned for that eye opener? But I digress.

It didn’t take a warning on the pack for me to figure out that cigarettes aren’t healthy. That mule kick in the chest from my first Lucky Strike was the tip off.

The same thing undoubtedly happened to the two-pack-a-day, 40-year-smoker in California, who was awarded $3 billion some years back because he was dying of lung cancer. Sorry he got sick but what did he expect? Whiter teeth and fresher breath?

If cigarettes are so dangerous, which I believe they are, why doesn’t the government ban them? Well that is because they make barns full of money off smokes. According to a report issued by the Urban Institute and Brookings Center, U.S. taxes on tobacco generated $17 billion in 2011 and has risen steadily since 1977 when revenues were $3.6 billion.

Uncle Sam makes way more on a pack of Winston's than the R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company, whose parent company Reynolds American, Inc., reported revenue in 2012 of $8.3 billion. 

"The government per-pack profit from cigarettes in 2012 was $3.78 (or 66 percent of the cost of a pack of cigarettes); almost ten times the profit of R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company,'' the company reported on its web site.

If Philip Morris announced today: “You’re right, these things are killers, we’re closing shop at midnight’, the Feds would flip out. Mark my words, they would sue to keep them in business dispensing death.

They might cite the people who would be put out of work but their overriding concern would the loss of tax revenue. It is hypocrisy of the first order.

Government should either declare tobacco a toxic substance and outlaw it or butt out. They can’t have it both ways.

That’s my 2 cents worth.

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