Cigarette tax saves many lives
I am responding to Matthew Pollock’s May 1 letter, which complains of a proposed increase in tobacco taxes, and the impact of such tax increases on cigarette retailers.
I can remember, when I was a youth 50 years ago, a pack of cigarettes cost about 25 cents. Many, if not most, of my teenage friends took up smoking. Some, who are still alive, still practice this unhealthy habit. In most cases, to their regret.
This last weekend, we buried an uncle. He was a smoker much of his life. He loved mentholated cigarettes. He died of lung cancer. Another person close to me, also a lifelong smoker, is now sweating out a spot on her lung. Surgery is chancy, because smoking has also affected her heart.
While I appreciate Mr. Pollock’s concern for his bottom line, the tax policy on cigarettes is specifically meant to discourage the purchase and use of cigarettes. His complaints indicate that the tax policy is working as intended. The high retail price of cigarettes has discouraged smoking among the present generation of teenagers, simply because it is a habit that they cannot afford to begin.
Aside from the human cost, the public health cost of cigarettes causes our nation’s health care cost to soar. Because cigarette smoking is more prevalent among lower income groups, much of this cost falls on the general public.
No pun intended, but cigarettes are a cancer on our society. Anything that can be done to discourage their purchase and use is good public policy.