State funding mech //GT
Tobacco tax would generate 2 billion dollars per state
(George Skelton, political correspondent for the LA times for 35 years “Lighting up a revenue idea” Aug 13
That acknowledged, I believe it's time to raise the tobacco tax
. Raise it by a hefty amount. Be a bully.
It's cowardly because
smokers are sitting ducks
-- unlike billionaires, big corporations, labor brotherhoods and other political investors, er,
But there's no stomach for raising broad-based taxes -- income, sales, vehicle -- at least among
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, Republican legislators and apparently the voters. Anyway, those taxes already were hiked
temporarily in February and voters rejected a two-year extension. The oil lobby so far has fought off Democratic efforts to
impose an oil extraction tax. Property taxes seem sacrosanct.
State government, however, desperately needs more money --
partly to pay for the costly medical care of impoverished smokers who suffer tobacco-caused diseases
. And a logical source
for the money is smokers themselves.
* It costs state and local governments about $4 billion annually for the
treatment of tobacco-related diseases, according to the American Lung Assn. of California. Medi-Cal, the state insurance
program for the poor, spends nearly $3 billion.
* Poor people smoke proportionately more than the rest of the population.
They're the ones who depend on government-paid medical care.
The state Department of Public Health reports that roughly
14% of California adultssmoke. But 20% of Medi-Cal recipients do. So do 22.5% of the uninsured who tend to clog costly
hospital emergency rooms where, by law, they must be treated.
Among adult men who earn less than $25,000 and didn't go
to college, nearly 25% smoke. Among those making more than $50,000 with a college degree, only 7.5% smoke.