When the US and China finally find a reason for a good old Super Power v. Super Power slaughterfest, at least we can take comfort in the fact that Chinese foot soldiers will be out of breath shortly after the first shots are fired. (Assuming we still have infantry and the whole war isn't a pointless pissing contest between robotic gun ships — i.e. who can build more expensive, plastic crap to blow up the other side's expensive, plastic crap.)
Either the Chinese actually are concerned with raising more money through its cigarette tax and want to support domestic cig makers, or this is the most ingenious population control method ever — encourage people to do something addictive and incredibly pleasurable and voila! No more over overcrowding (in about 30 years).
The conventional wisdom about smoking in American is that it's a huge drain on both the health care system and tax money by way of Medicare-dependant geezers breathing though a hole in their neck, stuck in a wheel chair with a heart replaced by an Energizer battery taped to a toaster oven. But, I like this theory much more.
According to some smart people, non-smokers live on average ten years longer — meaning they need ten more years of gov-financed Medicare, social security, etc — a much bigger and longer tax burden than the smokers who burn out rather than fade away. According to the Vanderbilt University economist, for every pack of cigarettes smoked the country reaps a net cost savings of 32 cents.
Back to the Chinese — its tax-and-encourage-smoking strategy actually makes a lot more sense that our tax-and-discourage plan. Taxes such as Obama's new $1-per-pack tax are used to fund increasingly important policies, such as his expanded children's health care program. Yet as we depend more and more on cigarettes to finance these projects we, at the same time, discourage and demonize smoking, cutting down the very tax we just raised to fund a program. Does that make any sense? It's a tax strategy that accepts failure either way - either people keep smoking (despite the gov saying its bad) and the program gets funded, or poeple quit smoking and the government program fails. If we are going to tax smokers (because it's easy and no one wants to be the heel that says anything against taxing selfish, unhealthy, heavy-breathing, tax-burden smokers) then lets actually follow through and grow some balls like the Chinese, who do what's necessary to get the job done. And we wonder why America's roar sounds more like a fat and bald accountant who just lost his favorite Members Only jacket.
Then again, maybe we should stop relying on an addictive substance to finance shit we should we should be able to take care of with more honest and clever means.