NY Gov Hochul Targets Cigarette Smokers for No Apparent Reason

New York Governor Kathy Hochul (D) is ramping up the state’s crusade against cigarette smokers — taking a sin tax position that speaks to the executive’s pattern of haphazard decision-making and penchant for casual tyranny.

New York media is reporting that the Democratic guv — who barely hung on to the role she inherited, following the spectacular fall of elder abuser and serial harasser Andrew Cuomo — has proposed a plan to hike the cigarette tax in the Empire State by another dollar, to $5.35.

But Hochul also legalized marijuana sales for recreational use in the state last month; she claims the move is centered around “equity” and will, somehow, “revitalize communities,” currently strewn with garbage, overrun by mentally ill vagrants, infested with rats, and plagued by rampant crime.

So, if this is about protecting health, how does the New York executive claim that smoking cigarettes is bad for our health but pot isn’t when pot is clearly equally bad or worse for health than cigarettes?

According to a report published just Thursday by Columbia University, the rate of asthma among teens in states that have legalized marijuana has shot up, especially among those in minority racial and ethnic groups.

“Our findings suggest that state-level cannabis policy could have downstream impacts on children’s respiratory health,” said Renee D. Goodwin, PhD, adjunct associate professor in the Department of Epidemiology at Columbia Mailman School and professor at The City University of New York. “Cannabis use is increasing among adults with children in the home, particularly in states which have legalized for medical or recreational use. Exposure to secondhand smoke is a key risk factor for asthma among children. This study offers a critical first step in identifying a key children’s health concern emerging in the context of rapid, ongoing changes in cannabis policy that are unaccompanied by clinical or public health guidelines for parents,” Columbia reported.

A recreational marijuana smoker indulges in smoking weed on April 14, 2020 in the Bushwick section of the Brooklyn borough of New York City. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

Harvard University published a report over the summer revealing how the multi-billion dollar cannabis industry is leading to long-term cognitive decline among users.

“Long-term cannabis users’ IQs declined by 5.5 points on average from childhood, and there were deficits in learning and processing speed compared to people that did not use cannabis. The more frequently an individual used cannabis, the greater the resulting cognitive impairment, suggesting a potential causative link,” author Kevin Hill, MD, MHS, director of addiction psychiatry at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and an associate professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, writes.

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) has also published findings showing that, aside from making people dumber, pot use also leads to mental illnesses including schizophrenia, depression, and anxiety.

“Recent research suggests that smoking high-potency marijuana every day could increase the chances of developing psychosis by nearly five times compared to people who have never used marijuana,” according to NIH.

But, ok, let’s be charitable and leave aside concerns about health, which are apparently dishonest, unscientific, or both — maybe Hochul just wants to make sure people aren’t smoking cigarettes, you know, because the aesthetic is too chic and glamorous for the hideous slum she is working so hard to make of New York. Well, the tax won’t address rates of cigarette smoking, either.

In a shocking turn of events, people who are addicted to smoking, as it turns out, don’t decide to abruptly kick their favorite and most exquisite vice because some paper-pushing poindexter is squeezing them more for it.

NEW YORK, NY - JANUARY 24: Detail of a man smoking a cigarette as he walks in Manhattan on January 24, 2018 in New York. American Lung Association released annual tobacco report that says tobacco use continues to be the number one cause of preventable death in the United States, killing 480,000 people every year.(Photo by Kena Betancur/VIEWpress/Corbis via Getty Images)

A man smokes a cigarette as he walks in Manhattan on January 24, 2018, in New York. (Photo by Kena Betancur/VIEWpress/Corbis via Getty Images)

New York, which already is the state with the highest tobacco tax in the nation, also leads the nation in smuggling activity, with 53.5% of cigarettes smoked in the state coming from black or grey market sources.

According to a report published by the DC-based Tax Foundation think tank, there is a “strong positive relationship between cigarette smuggling and tax rates across U.S. states and the District of Columbia. The data also demonstrate that when states increase their cigarette taxes, smuggling rates increase, both in the form of increased purchases in neighboring states and through illicit international channels.”

“Nationwide, New York continues to have the greatest rate of cigarette smuggling, with smuggled cigarettes accounting for 53.5 percent of total cigarette consumption in the state. New York also has one of the highest state cigarette taxes ($4.35 per pack), not counting the additional local New York City cigarette tax ($1.50 per pack), yielding a combined rate of $5.85 per pack,” the Tax Foundation reported.

I technically, basically, apparently, sort of, “quit” smoking 3 years ago, but for those who are not hardened enough for these streets, I suggest the Top-O-Matic cigarette rolling machine, which can be purchased on Amazon and will yield a high ROI in these trying times.

So, if the tax isn’t for caring about health and also isn’t about making sure people smoke fewer cigarettes, then where does this leave us?

If I didn’t know better, I might think that Gov. Hochul has no coherent basis for her policies and is just interested in virtue signaling with the appearance of concern for New York’s residents — by hectoring groups she thinks will earn her praise from other fake virtue signalers. But I’m just an odious nicotine addict.

Emma-Jo Morris is the Politics Editor at Breitbart News. Email her at [email protected] or follow her on Twitter.

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