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Friday, December 18, 2015

Cigarettes Getting Even More Expensive in SF, Because You Are Filthy

Posted By on Fri, Dec 18, 2015 at 11:46 AM

click to enlarge This will cost ya. - WIKIMEDIA COMMONS
  • Wikimedia Commons
  • This will cost ya.
Are you still smoking cigarettes, bro? Better hope for a raise at work, because regardless of your stance on tobacco — as a sweet, sweet enjoyment of one of life's few pleasures or a foul and filthy scourge to be marginalized at every opportunity — the habit is going to be become more expensive in San Francisco next year.

The city is raising the cost of a pack of smokes by another 40 cents, effective in January, as the San Francisco Examiner reports. The city is able to do this because it's not a tobacco tax — that's a state-level thing — but a fee charged to the smoker up-front, for the cost of collecting his or her nasty butts off of the ground.

It's Ayn Randian, in a way: You only have yourself to blame — for the stinky clothes and the COPD, and how much you pay for the privilege. 

Almost 12 million packs of cigarettes were bought in San Francisco last year, the Examiner reports — and at $7.50 or so per pack, that's no small investment. It's also no small investment for city cleanup crews, who spent an estimated $2 million in staff time and energy just to clean up the discarded butts from gutters, sidewalks, and other places near where fix-crazed smokers huddle.

The city has been collecting a cigarette cleanup fee for about six years. Somehow, in that time, the amount of "tobacco-related litter" has increased, from about a quarter to almost half of all detritus collected off of the streets. Seriously? 

Either there are more smokers or there are more messy smokers — or in a fit of nicotine-induced pique, the fee collection is just encouraging slobs. SF Weekly knows at least one cigarette user who, when apprised of the fee charged for cleanup, was even more apt to toss a cigarette butt away on the street, because "I paid for it." Seriously.

If nothing else, this is an experiment in public responsibility — can we make people act right by charging them money? And it's one that the smokers appear to be winning, in an avalanche of spit-stained discarded cigarette butts.

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About The Author

Chris Roberts

Chris Roberts has spent most of his adult life working in San Francisco news media, which is to say he's still a teenager in Middle American years. He has covered marijuana, drug policy, and politics for SF Weekly since 2009.


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