Yes, Virginia, the bums do the smoking
Do you have any proof or data that shows "smoking is habit associated with the poor"?
Good question. My evidence when I made the statement was anecdotal, based on a year or so doing industrial temp work in Cleveland. But anecdotal doesn't cut it, so let's see what we can find.
Smoking is associated with larger effects on income than drinking: Single equation estimates suggest smokers earn 8 percent less than nonsmokers, and the smoking penalty rises to 24 percent after correcting for endogeneity.
(p. 7-8 contain data on smoking rates in the UK associated with class, deprivation level and manual vs. non-manual trades)
(British Columbia teenagers)
(poorer parents more likely to have children who smoke)
The risk of adolescent smoking increased by 28% with each step down in parental education and increased by 30% for each step down in parental household income. These associations persisted after adjustment for age, sex, race/ethnicity, and adolescent disposable income. Parental smoking status was a mediator of these associations.
OK, this was just a couple minutes with ask.com; nothing that qualifies as real medical or sociological research.
And yes, Issue 18 IS a tax on losers, scarcely a "liberal" concept.
As for your link re price elasticity in tobacco, see this:
We find that the price sensitivity of conditional consumption, cigarettes smoked by smokers, shows no robust pattern with income and is frequently insignificant. Thus, our results challenge the conventional view that price sensitivity falls monotonically with income. Our predictions of the equity consequences of tax increases show that using all traditional measures of progressivity, whether based on tax expenditures or welfare, cigarette tax increases are not close to progressive.
This ignores the question of whether it's government's job to save the lives of those who deliberately kill themselves. If indeed it is (I vehemently disagree), shouldn't we simply ban smoking, instead of making ourselves morally complicit in it by taxing it? After all, it has worked so well with other drugs.