Tax won't reduce teen smoking

Letter to the editor

Posted: Sunday, October 05, 2003

There is a new sign popping up all over town. I've seen it in on buildings, on lawns, even in car windows. It reads, "Vote 'Yes' on the Tobacco Tax, Help Prevent Teenage Smoking!" What a wonderful slogan! - completely devoid of common sense, but wonderful nonetheless. No, I am not crazy. No, I don't think teens should smoke. I am, however, a realist. I know a couple of facts that illustrate the naiveté of these signs.

First, teens are the one segment of society that possesses what most financial folks like to call "disposable income." This means that the money they make (or are given) is not required for bills, living expenses, etc. It is pretty much "fun" money - spend on whatever you want.

Second, since when did the high sticker price anything ever inhibit a teen from obtaining it? Have you looked at the price of a popular pair of jeans lately? How about some new sneakers? A hundred bucks for either is not unheard of. In addition, I have seen numerous high school students driving cars more expensive than my own. How can kids afford this kind of exorbitance? Refer to point number one.

The tobacco tax won't really prevent kids from smoking, it will just generate more revenue from the ones who do. Revenue for what, you ask?

Revenue to fund the "prevent smoking" programs for the non-smoking school kids whose parents are too cheap to pay for these programs themselves. If these programs were really that important, the entire community would be paying for them - instead of trying to pawn them off on someone else.

Oh, and just for the record, I don't smoke. As a non-smoker, I don't feel right that smokers are being forced/fleeced to pay for programs intended for my children. Get a clue, people. Vote "No."

Patrick McGonegal

Juneau



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