'This is a crusade, not a lawsuit' (1992-1998)
John Banzhaf once compared the anti-smoking movement to a three-legged stool. One leg consisted of telling smokers that they were harming themselves. The second leg was the belief that secondhand smoke was harmful to nonsmokers. The third leg was the idea that smokers placed an unfair financial burden on the general population by obliging them to pay for the treatment of their diseases through higher taxes and medical insurance costs. This economic argument, which, at the Winnipeg conference, Banzhaf called the "new weapon", came to the fore after Bill Clinton became US President in 1993.
For all its efforts, nothing the American anti-smoking movement had yet achieved reduced cigarette consumption as effectively as Reagan's tax hike of 1982. Per capita consumption of cigarettes had fallen by 6.7% - the biggest drop since 1932 - and it seemed to confirm that raising prices was the single most effective way of bringing down the smoking rate. Keenly aware of the potential of taxation as a weapon, the anti-smoking lobby pleaded with Reagan to raise tax on cigarettes again but he refused to do so. Federal tax on a pack of cigarettes remained at 16 cents until 1991 when, with the budget unbalanced once more, George Bush Sr. increased it by 4 cents. This time, however, a fall in consumption failed to occur; the smoking rate actually rose in for the first time in years.
Bill Clinton promised to be tougher on tobacco...
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