I was appalled to read this article about oligarchs pressuring the Ukrainian prez to back off on tobacco taxes.
The Ukrainian League of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs has called on President Viktor Yushchenko to veto the law that provides for raising the rate of the excise duty on tobacco goods.
Interestingly, the president of the Ukrainian League of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs just happens to be Party of Regions MP Anatoliy Kinakh, who is also shadow minister of industrial policy. Nothing like transparency in politics. (What conflict of interest?)
Kinakh argued that the Ukrainian tobacco industry would become uncompetitive if the law came into effect. He says a 2.5-fold increase of the rate of the excise duty on tobacco goods will «have a negative effect on formation the prices of tobacco goods.»
Being a life-long non-smoker, who grew up with parents that smoked (and have thankfully since quit), I tend to agree with the author of this article.
I've no sympathy for the tobacco companies. There's a legacy of deception that makes them responsible for the deaths of millions of people despite government warnings about the harmful effects of smoking. They should have to pay compensation to people who took up and kept up the habit during the years when Big Tobacco cynically questioned the link between smoking and disease.
Lest anyone should still believe the fiction that tobacco is a harmless, personal lifestyle choice, a factsheet put out by New Zealand's Ministry of Health tells the real story:
Of the more than 4,000 chemicals present in cigarette smoke, more than 60 have been identified as cancer causing chemicals, 11 of which are known to cause cancer in humans and eight that probably cause cancer in humans. ...
Approximately one non-smoker dies due to second-hand smoke exposure for every eight smokers who die of smoking related disease. Second-hand smoke has been designated a known human carcinogen (cancer-causing agent).
Tobacco is a proven poison ... and who would better know about poison than President Yushchenko? This progressive law he is trying to introduce would be a first step in improving the health of Ukrainian citizens as well as potentially the Ukrainian economy. But, vested interests see things differently.
It's too bad those vested interests are such neanderthals.