I am a third-year veteran worker for controlling tobacco use. And I am against the recent call for an increase in tobacco taxes. Why, when that weed is the worst product that the U.S. ever legalized and subsequently chose not to regulate? The health care cost to all Alaskans is over six bucks per pack. Smokers complain about paying more taxes: The majority nonsmokers should complain against subsidizing the minority's tobacco addiction.
But, my point: The proposed tax increase only serves to increase the Alaska state general fund, only serves the annual legislative feed at the trough. The tobacco tax increase does not translate directly into increased prevention of tobacco use. Admittedly, there are studies that show that teen tobacco use decreases with every additional tax hike. Nonetheless, the spirit behind the current tax increase is not to improve public health, but rather to exploit an addictive spending pattern to puff up the general fund.
We in tobacco prevention do not hate smokers. We hate the addiction, the product, and the promotional industry. If the governor were serious about paying for all tobacco's cancer and crud, Alaska would charge $7 per pack in taxes. Yes, maybe seven bucks per pack tax would offset the public damage. But, the current tax hike only serves to artificially increase state revenue, alienate smokers and create an atmosphere of dissension among the good working people in Alaska. Let's strive to end tobacco use, not tax the addicts.
John D. Stinson, Coordinator