# Should taxes be utilized to modify behavior?

I'm clarify, the OP was centered around taxing cigarettes - the user pays more to continue their behavior. The "re-distribution of taxes" is referring to the taxes collected from one group that will benefit (influence behavior) another group.

In the second example - an incentive is given to a group to participate. This would be comparable to not taxing the cigarettes - but provide free stop smoking classes in the first example.
More than likely the "free" classes are only free to the participants. If they are held in a room, someone is getting paid for the room. If the teacher is getting paid, someone is paying the teacher. If they're given by volunteers on unmaintained public land, they might be free, except it's probably going to cost some gas and vehicle wear-and-tear for everyone to get to the unmaintained land, etc. etc.

More than likely the "free" classes are only free to the participants. If they are held in a room, someone is getting paid for the room. If the teacher is getting paid, someone is paying the teacher. If they're given by volunteers on unmaintained public land, they might be free, except it's probably going to cost some gas and vehicle wear-and-tear for everyone to get to the unmaintained land, etc. etc.
That is correct - the non-smokers would have to pay - to (attempt to) modify the behavior of the smoker.

That is correct - the non-smokers would have to pay - to (attempt to) modify the behavior of the smoker.
With this thought in mind, let's look back at what happens now. Smokers pay a tax on each package of cigarettes - that is intended to modify behavior (according to the IRS).

Next, we know that smokers have a high incidence of smoking-related illnesses. Insurance companies typically charge smokers about 25% more on their premiums. Further, Medicare is often left to pay the highest portion of the costs related to smoking-related illnesses (and even offers smoking cessation benefits on MAPD's).

Also in this thread, we estimated the actual costs to treat someone for smoking-related catastrophic illness (lifetime) works out to approximately $130 per pack of cigarettes smoked. Given all of these assumptions - why isn't it reasonable to levy a tax that represents the actual cost related to the behavior - why not charge$135 per pack of cigarettes and save the taxpayers on the back end?

Should taxes be utilized to modify behavior?

Yes, there should.

Call those people who advance the effort to tax others for their behaviors and habits, "Behavioral Assessors."

A Behavioral Assessor tax could then be levied on those who express this behavior.

Should taxes be utilized to modify behavior?

Yes, there should.

Call those people who advance the effort to tax others for their behaviors and habits, "Behavioral Assessors."

A Behavioral Assessor tax could then be levied on those who express this behavior.
Nice...

Given all of these assumptions - why isn't it reasonable to levy a tax that represents the actual cost related to the behavior - why not charge \$135 per pack of cigarettes and save the taxpayers on the back end?
Oh yipee! Can we then charge tax on gasoline to pay for all traffic-accident related injuries and damage?

Then he's in good company, as the phrase is originally from http://xroads.virginia.edu/~HYPER/DETOC/1_ch15.htm" [Broken].
It was just a joke.

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Oh yipee! Can we then charge tax on gasoline to pay for all traffic-accident related injuries and damage?
Would it eliminate lawyers from the equation - might be a good thing and cost less too?

A more serious answer is the costs of long term care for smoking-related illnesses can be measured with a level of certainty - traffic accidents might be less predictable - but historical data could be analyzed for trends.

As strange as these concepts (with regaards to cigarettes) sound - they might be effective in the long term?

A more serious answer is the costs of long term care for smoking-related illnesses can be measured with a level of certainty - traffic accidents might be less predictable - but historical data could be analyzed for trends.
I am serious about the gas tax for traffic-related injuries and damage. You could say that not everyone who uses gasoline should be responsible for those who abuse it and cause accidents - but then why should everyone who buys cigarettes be responsible for those people who smoke at health-damaging levels? I think it's just part of the addictive nature of both that the more people do it, the more the risk of harm increases - and the amount they do it keeps increasing because of the nature of addiction. More driving allows more consumption, which creates more demand for more products and shipping, which creates more reason to drive around shopping, which increases traffic and thus the risk, number, and severity of accidents.

I am serious about the gas tax for traffic-related injuries and damage. You could say that not everyone who uses gasoline should be responsible for those who abuse it and cause accidents - but then why should everyone who buys cigarettes be responsible for those people who smoke at health-damaging levels? I think it's just part of the addictive nature of both that the more people do it, the more the risk of harm increases - and the amount they do it keeps increasing because of the nature of addiction. More driving allows more consumption, which creates more demand for more products and shipping, which creates more reason to drive around shopping, which increases traffic and thus the risk, number, and severity of accidents.
I'm not sure what would be accomplished by discouraging people from driving - the cost of smoking and the benefits of not smoking are quite evident. Use of gasoline in and of itself is not addictive nor is an accident predictable.

I'm not sure what would be accomplished by discouraging people from driving - the cost of smoking and the benefits of not smoking are quite evident. Use of gasoline in and of itself is not addictive nor is an accident predictable.
I think driving still has the popularity-legitimizing effect that smoking once did. If mobility culture was widely divided between driving and other forms of transit, driving could appear generally dangerous to those who were completely alienated from it. Think of how dangerous the cultures of weaponry we hear about in Iraq/Afganistan/etc. seem to people who are accustomed to only police carrying firearms. Many Europeans have a similar view of the US, as if the streets are filled with gun-carrying vigilantes ready to shoot at the slightest conflict. The question is not whether popular usage contributes to abuse and damage but whether responsible users of tobacco, cars, or guns should be penalized for the culture of abuse that evolves from their popularity. Is the cost to responsible users worth the benefit to those who are less responsible or simply victims of cultural pressures that arise from popularity.

I think driving still has the popularity-legitimizing effect that smoking once did. If mobility culture was widely divided between driving and other forms of transit, driving could appear generally dangerous to those who were completely alienated from it. Think of how dangerous the cultures of weaponry we hear about in Iraq/Afganistan/etc. seem to people who are accustomed to only police carrying firearms. Many Europeans have a similar view of the US, as if the streets are filled with gun-carrying vigilantes ready to shoot at the slightest conflict. The question is not whether popular usage contributes to abuse and damage but whether responsible users of tobacco, cars, or guns should be penalized for the culture of abuse that evolves from their popularity. Is the cost to responsible users worth the benefit to those who are less responsible or simply victims of cultural pressures that arise from popularity.
I read an article yesterday about an electric car with approx. 800 hp and a top speed over 300 mph. Even if gasoline were obsolete - driving will (apparently) continue.

I read an article yesterday about an electric car with approx. 800 hp and a top speed over 300 mph. Even if gasoline were obsolete - driving will (apparently) continue.
Well then maybe there should be a list of non-harmful modes of transit and shipping and those should be exempt from a general distance-travelled tax. Maybe these things shouldn't be done by taxation but by laws. Either way, it's unlikely that any kind of legal control of popular culture will ever be implemented until sufficient public support is garnered - and by that time lots of people have decided to self-govern anyway and any formal laws become just bullying of social-cultural minorities.

Well then maybe there should be a list of non-harmful modes of transit and shipping and those should be exempt from a general distance-travelled tax. Maybe these things shouldn't be done by taxation but by laws. Either way, it's unlikely that any kind of legal control of popular culture will ever be implemented until sufficient public support is garnered - and by that time lots of people have decided to self-govern anyway and any formal laws become just bullying of social-cultural minorities.
How many of the accidents cited (in earlier posts) involved alcohol or illegal substances?