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Northwest Voices

Seattle Times letters to the editor

April 3, 2009 at 4:00 PM

New tobacco tax

Smokers should be held accountable for choices

Yes, it most certainly is unfair … to the large majority of Americans who do not smoke [“Tobacco tax takes giant leap Wednesday,” News, March 31].

The tax should be higher. Do the math. If a $0.62 tax increase on a pack of cigarettes and other smoker-related taxes are expected to raise an additional $19 billion in four-and-a-half years (that’s $4.22 billion additional per year) and the estimated health costs related to smoking are $119 billion each year (from estimates of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), then the tax increase should be $17.48 per pack to cover these estimated health costs related to smoking.

Factor in the 5 percent of smokers who quit because they can’t afford the higher price and the tax would reduce to $16.61 per pack. Add this to the conservative estimate of $4.80 for the average per-pack cigarette price in the U.S., based on data collected from states and territories at the end of 2008, and the new price per pack becomes $21.41.

CNN headline: “Smokers feeling abused as federal tax hike hits.”

Boo hoo. Smokers should be accountable for their bad choices.

— Gary Glenisky, Seattle

Comments | More in Health care, Taxes

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