Every Montanan who turns on the radio, tv, or surfs the net (pretty much all of us) is getting hit hard with political ads.  Other than the Rosendale vs Tester ads, Initiative 185 seems to be the most advertised issue at the polls this November.

If you're going to read this, please understand the following:

  • I am not a politics guru and I am not trying to sway you in anyway.
  • I am NOT advocating any addictive habits
  • I think with this issue, and any other that you want to form an opinion on, do some of your own homework and don't just go to social media to find out how you feel about things.
  • Be an educated voter.

Below is my attempt at trying to educate myself before I get to the vaping point.  If you have some insight on this that I am missing or you think I'm wrong, feel free to comment and let me know where you're coming from.

I'll link the whole ballot measure, but I'm sure you know that in a nutshell this is a measure to raise the taxes on cigarettes and all other nicotine (and some non-nicotine) products other than cessation products. $2.00 a pack increase for cigarettes.

According to census data, we have about 530,854 adults (18+) in the state.  According to the CDC, about 22.1% of adults in Montana smoke (data from 2011 so it's likely lower now, but I'm just going to run with that figure).   Based on that data, there are about 117,318 smokers in the state.  Assuming the average smoker smokes a pack a day, that's $234,637 of daily tax revenue; about 85.6 million dollars a year.  The official projection is around 74 million in new tax revenue, so I'm not too far off and I'll buy that number.  In addition to that money, we'll also get somewhere around a half billion in federal matching.   I assume that money will come from both smoking and non-smoking citizens.

The other money earmarked for veterans and a few other causes seems pretty nominal, but I'll leave that for you to research and decide.

Okay, so here comes the opinionated rant part of this article and the part I don't really understand...Why is vaping being penalized as much as tobacco?  There can only be one answer:  It looks like something that offends people.  It's not the actual thing that offends them  (that's smoking of course), but the fact is that billions of dollars have been invested to make the image of smoking an ugly one and this looks too much like smoking to ignore.  There is no other reason that I can think of.  I suppose you could say that maybe someday they'll discover vaping is just as bad, but that logic doesn't seem to apply to prescription medication ads that I see every day (some of which even list death as a possible side effect) or any other product that hits our capitalist market.  You could also argue that it contains nicotine which is a highly addictive natural pesticide and is most definitely not good for you.  I agree with that statement.  It is 100% true. But the ballot also includes vaping nicotine free solutions.  Therefore, what opponents are really saying is, "I don't want you doing something that looks like something that offends me."  Am I missing something here?

Again, I'm not trying to sway you on this, but if we're going to have ballot measures based on the way things look, let's get man buns and guy liner on a ballot.