The decidedly unscientific poll known as “Bagpipes” hereby pronounces a 3-to-1 margin of public preference for higher rather than lower state taxes on cigarettes.
A year or so ago, one of the three, Julian Powers of Spokane, asked state Sen. John Moyer, R-Spokane, (“who certainly is very familiar with the health care issues and the costs thereof”) how much of health care costs can be blamed on an individual pack of cigarettes sold in Washington.
“John is very conservative and he said, ‘Well, it’s between $2 and $3 a pack,”’ Powers recalls.
“In my opinion, that is what the tax rate should be. The cigarette people should pay their own way. I’m an advocate of between $2 and $3 a pack tax on cigarettes.”
Not Paula Campbell of Spokane, however.
“No government should profit by the misery of others,” she said, “whether it be taxes on alcohol, taxes on cigarettes or taxes that might come from the legalization of marijuana, cocaine or any other drug that destroys lives. My answer is that taxes on cigarettes should be no higher than taxes for any other product sold in the state: 8.1 percent.”
Au contraire, declares Ellen McCabe of Spokane.
“Certainly, the taxes should go higher for cigarettes, alcohol and anything else injurious to one’s health,” she said.
Dr. Dennis W. Biggs Jr., a physician and a member of the board of directors of the American Cancer Society’s Spokane unit, noted that Congress probably will make states bear more of the cost of caring for those who can’t afford medical insurance.
“It does not seem to me to make any sense to rob Washington state’s Health Services Account to benefit the out-of-state tobacco industry,” he said. “That consortium already has gained product liability immunity by funneling millions of dollars into the campaign coffers of legislators, so its profits should not be bolstered at the expense of the citizens of this state.
“High prices for tobacco products have been shown to deter many kids from becoming nicotine addicts,” Biggs continued. “Don’t try to tell me that the youths at Salk Junior High are going to go to Idaho or a reservation ‘smoke shop’ to get around higher local prices for tobacco products. This is certainly the most important point to make in this whole issue.”
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