Tobacco rally, tax exploit children

Letter to the editor

Posted: Friday, April 16, 2004

Recently I attended the so-called rally for the push on the tobacco tax increase and was rather appalled. I have never before seen such a blatant exploitation of children to push a political agenda. Resorting to using kids as a source of raising money is utterly ridiculous and is nothing short of propaganda.

Now I myself am rather confused as to how raising the tax on cigarettes is going to decrease youth smoking. First of all, maybe the governor is not aware of the fact that kids cannot buy cigarettes themselves, therefore they either steal them or have someone else purchase them. Second of all, the more inaccessible you try to make youth smoking the more desirable it becomes. And finally, kids are not affected with the expenses that adults are, therefore an extra dollar a pack is not going to deter them too much.

According to Jennifer App of the American Heart Association, a 10-percent tax increase translates to a 7-percent decrease in youth smoking. Now if we understand basic math we can understand that decreasing a number by a percentage will never yield a net total of zero. Therefore you will never stop youth smoking ... ever.

By the way Mr. Murkowski, your quote, "And we are cracking down today on tobacco and we are going to start with you," just happened to be directed at someone who voted for you. It is nice to see how you treat the people responsible for your position of power. What I can't understand is how come as a senator voted against an increase in tobacco tax and against restrictions on tobacco.

Now I understand that our state is short of money right now. But instead of punishing people that are supporting the state through taxes already, let's punish the people that are draining the economy. Let's punish the people that don't work and expect a free ride through life, not charge a tax to every person that has a job. Let's punish the people that use cash-back benefits from food stamps to buy alcohol, cigarettes, and drugs, not the ones that spend extra money that they've earned.

Now maybe my thinking is wrong here, but it almost seems like it would be easier for me to quit my job and collect unemployment, sign up for food stamps and apply for Section 8 housing. Actually, this doesn't sound like a bad idea after all. Maybe then I could afford to keep smoking.

Tim J. Shockley

Juneau



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