This will probably get me thrown out of the smoker’s club, but yes, I think that those of us that choose to smoke should bear the responsibility of the health risks that are caused by the habit.
While nicotine addiction is very powerful, no one made you smoke. There may have been peer pressure and ad campaigns (which I think have been blown out of proportion), but when it comes down to it, each individual chooses whether or not to start smoking. There is no doubt that once you are “hooked” on the habit, it is very, very hard to stop. It is hard, not impossible.
Since you chose to do something that you know is harmful to your body, why shouldn’t you be responsible to pay the costs involved to fix (or at least treat) the conditions that result. They are well known. Lung cancer, Emphysema, and various other respiratory problems. Smokers also seem to age faster as well as everything about them smells like an ashtray. Remember, I am not pointing fingers, I am smoking while I write this.
You also have the idea of second hand smoke. While it is still a point of controversy, the evidence seems to get stronger and stronger that it is as dangerous as you smoking yourself. I don’t know what the full dangers are, but to be on the safe side, I don’t personally smoke around my nephews (or any other children for that matter).
There is something known as a “sin tax”. Barring the religious overtones (other than knowingly harming your body, I don’t think it is an actual sin to smoke no matter what your religion may be), I actually agree with this idea. My home state (Illinois) has an exceptionally high rate on it’s sin taxes. Many people will actually drive to neighboring states (usually Kentucky or Missouri) to purchase cigarettes because the taxes are lower. Sin taxes cover such things as cigarettes, alcohol, and gambling. All of these things are voluntary. I would rather see something voluntary be taxed than a loaf of bread or gallon of gas.
Will my contributions through these taxes help me if I find myself in the hospital? More than likely not. If we look at it in a collective sense, smokers are watching out for each other. More important than watching out for each other, they are all paying the price together instead of putting the burden on someone who has never touched a cigarette in their life. It should not be the responsibility of my elderly neighbor who is probably healthier than I am, to have her taxes used to treat a condition of mine that I knowingly caused.
Is this a simple yes or no question? Of course not. There are a hundred other questions that can be raised based on the original. When it comes down to a black and white, yes or no, then without any doubt the answer is yes. Through these so called sin taxes, which make every pack of cigarettes more and more expensive, smokers should bear the responsibility of the health risks caused by cigarette smoking. It is your choice, so you pay the price in a higher tax (as well as your own health, but choice is still the key word).