Tax hike in best interest

Letter to the editor

Posted: Monday, September 29, 2003

I have worked in the addiction field for 18 years, primarily with children and adolescents. Working in this field has been both rewarding and heartbreaking at times. I have watched countless people struggle with addiction, many winning, some losing, some coming back to win another day. All addictions rob your health and pocketbook.

All addictions are consuming, none more consuming than tobacco. If you doubt that statement go to any 12-step group and ask the participants what the last substance they quit was, and they will tell you "cigarettes." Or they will tell you they quit for three months once and "couldn't take it." Or they will tell you they have given up enough already; maybe they will tell you the date they next "plan to quit."

The point is these are people who have overcome incredible addictions and yet still struggle with what many misinformed people view as a minor substance. Studies have proven nicotine is as addictive as heroin. If you pushed that comparison a little further and thought of a cigarette as a syringe imagine how many times a nicotine addict would inject himself a day! 20 to 40 times. If that were the case we would bleed to death!

According to the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention, a tax increase of 50 percent would cause a 12.5 percent reduction in total cigarette consumption - this reduction will primarily occur within two populations; adolescents and low-income families. Why? Because those populations are forced to prioritize what they want to spend their money on. By promoting this tax it is not my intention to "pick on smokers;" it is my heartfelt hope that through this tax we can affect how many kids start smoking, persuade those that are smoking to quit sooner and get some of our prevention programs back into the schools where they belong.

By the way, most smokers I know and have met want to quit and don't want their children to smoke. When you go to the polls this Oct. 7, please put the children and their health first.

Ruth Simpson

Certified Chemical Dependency Counselor II

Juneau



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