Is the cigarette tax worth it?

If the government were to tax a more widely used item, it might not have to hike the rate up so dramatically.

Earlier last week, smokers stocked up to avoid the $1.01 tax that was added to cigarettes last Wednesday. The tax is designed to expand health insurance to children whose parents make too much money to qualify for Medicaid and not enough to afford their own private insurance through the ChildrenâÄôs Health Insurance Program, better known as SCHIP. With the increased cigarette tax, the plan is aimed to provide federally-funded health care to an additional 4 million children. The program currently funds nearly 7 million. We applaud them for wanting to provide this service to more children. Too many times, children arenâÄôt treated for illnesses or canâÄôt have regular checkups because their parents canâÄôt afford it. But for a program that reaches such a wide range of the population, the government shouldnâÄôt single out one small sector to pay for it. If the government were to tax a more widely used item, it might not have to hike the rate up so dramatically. Instead of the 62 cents added to cigarette tax, it might be able to add half of that amount to something else. ItâÄôs always been a trend to add âÄúsin taxesâÄù âÄî making people pay more to buy things like alcohol and tobacco. Sure, we hope the recently increased cigarette tax will motivate people to quit. But will it? When Allegheny County in Pennsylvania implemented a poured drink tax in December 2007, people worried that bar patrons would go outside the county to drink to avoid the tax. What happened was quite the contrary. The county ended up with an excess amount of tax money, and it is now left debating how to use it. Though the 10 percent tax was hefty, people didnâÄôt stop drinking. And thatâÄôs very likely what could happen with the increase of cigarette tax. This editorial, accessed via UWire, was originally published in the Daily Kent Stater at Kent State University. Please send comments to [email protected]