I didn’t like what I read in the July 11 article “Lawmakers seek sweet spot in tobacco tax debate.” While I fully support raising the tobacco tax, I disagree that the revenues should be used as an alternative way to cover ballooning social security costs in a rapidly aging society.
I think the revenues should be used to shoulder the exorbitant costs of medical treatment for people who develop tobacco-related diseases. In essence, that would force tobacco companies to accept some responsibility and help treat diseases caused by their product. It would also reduce the burden currently placed on nonsmoking taxpayers.
The revenues should also be used to develop a national tobacco prevention program that focuses on encouraging citizens, specifically the youth, not to just quit smoking but, more importantly, not to start in the first place.
The article makes lawmakers seem less interested in what the primary reason for raising the price of tobacco products should be — achieving a healthier society — and more interested in replenishing mismanaged or embezzled social security coffers at the expense of both smokers and tobacco companies. It’s as if they’re saying, “We’re going to raise the price of cigarettes, but, hey, don’t quit smoking, OK? We do want the money.”