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Do you think the state should raise the cigarette tax to pay for health care reforms?

Asked at Massachusetts Street on December 14, 2007

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Photo of Gretchen Auten

“Yes. People who smoke are going to be using the health care system more in the long run, so it is benefiting them. And any incentive to quit is a good one.”

Photo of Annette Koland

“I think so, because it stops people from smoking, and at least those people who do smoke will be helping others while hurting themselves.”

Photo of Jeff Ryan

“No. I think it’s already too high for the smokers anyway.”

Photo of Doug Evers

“ think it sounds like a good plan because of the effect smoking has on your health. If that money is used for health care or medical research, it will be money well spent.”


KS 10 years ago

Sure, why not? Then when everyone quits smoking they can come at the rest of us and increase our taxes for all the programs that they started and don't have any revenue to supoort. Who comes up this stuff?

Woodduck_5363 10 years ago

Why!!! It seems to me that everyone has jumped on this band-wagon for too long. Smoking as well as the foods we now eat keeps us in bad health, drugs hurts the medical system whether legal or non- legal. Alcohol what about that isn't this a medical issue???

Stop beating a dead horse and and get back to common sense. Don't we have enough stress and confusion going on in our lives. Is it due to smoking I think not. We pay out the wazoo for taxes now what will be next and you have no say so no vote for many of these issues in Kansas.

Wake up people I thought that dictatatorship was in other countries.

jumpin_catfish 10 years ago


thomgreen 10 years ago

I thought I read somewhere that the New England Journal of Medicine had done a study that showed medical costs would actually rise significantly in the long term if people ended up not smoking. There would be significant short term benefits, but as more people quit, they would end up living longer and incurring more medical expenses than if they had stayed a smoker and died sooner.
I might be wrong. But, then again, the state might be betting on the notion that smokers (or any other addict) won't quit smoking even if the taxes are raised. Look at gas prices. I'm as addicted to driving as the next person, but the higher prices really haven't been a deterrent to my behavior. The higher prices have just lined the pockets of someone else and caused me to be grumpier when I fill up.

jonas 10 years ago

4125: "Say it like it is - we're going to raise your cigarette taxes because you're an addict and you'll get the money somehow and we'll get our extortionary cut. Taxing addicts - yeah, that's 'the right thing to do'."

You forgot the idea that a large percentage (85%) of our population would see this as a way of pushing any responsibilities they might have otherwise had on somebody else. Always a popular method.

Bone777 10 years ago

You want to address another problem of the health care system, lets revisit immigration and worst of all ........... the smoking immigrant

jonas 10 years ago

"I'm as addicted to driving as the next person, but the higher prices really haven't been a deterrent to my behavior."

I wouldn't be so hard on yourself. America and its cities, especially in the midwest, have been largely made to necessitate driving. That may not be the principle reason behind decisions, per se, but certainly a taken-for-granted factor, I think.

cowboy 10 years ago

Using this logic all non smokers will live forever and never have any health related costs. Seems to be an issue of we can raise some money off the smokers backs plain and simple. Where did the state spend the windfalls they all received years ago in the big settlement. As long as we let gov't nickle and dime our incomes then wastefully spend it we will see proposals like this over and over.I don't see it changing in my lifetime. The public needs to tell our reps no new taxes period , figure it out and set some priorities then live within your budget , like all of us have to on a daily basis.

I find it interesting that over the past couple of years we have seen companies either charging more for health care to smokers or flat out not employing them , and now were seeing obesity or even mild overweight being targeted , whats next diabetics , asthmatics , health cops . The world is F'ed up.

JJHawq 10 years ago

Legalize marijuana and tax it.

sunflower_sue 10 years ago

Only if the tax money goes directly to programs for cigarette smoke induced illnesses.

snake_eyes 10 years ago

they should use the extra tax to put exploding devices in every cigarette so that every smoker would blow up. think of it as just speeding up the process for them. smokers are disgusting...

Jay Bird 10 years ago

JJHawq has a good idea. We should run with that. To bad we can't light up a joint and play some pool. I'm sure the smoking ban would cover that as well.

Flap Doodle 10 years ago

I could use a couple of carbon credits over here........

Kevin Sontag 10 years ago

Smokers make my clothes stink.

Tax 'em! Then tax 'em again!

whatatown 10 years ago

No No NO. Tax on cigerattes is already ridiculously high, and the last raise had very little affect on the amount of people smoking. As for the argument that smokers will use the health care system more, so freakin' what! I would like to say that I do not have children, nor do I plan to. I pay for your snot-nose brats schooling and have no say in the matter, so when I am old you can return the favor by getting me a lung transplant.

JayhawksandHerd 10 years ago

"smokers are disgusting:"

So are a lot of non-smokers.

Bone777 10 years ago

Yeah. That along with alcohol, fast food, high fructose foods/drinks, couches, recliners, Lane Bryant clothing......

ms_canada 10 years ago

Just how much is the tax on a package of cigarettes down there? And is it the same in every state? We have a high tax on tobacco. I will look it up and get back on that amount.

Bone777 10 years ago

and pants over 40" inches in the waist, shirts over XXL, the Big side of the 'Big and Tall Man Store'....

If we are going to tax the unhealthy and their habits lets tax their whole existance. Alcohol would make a huge amount of money compared to cigarettes, it just doesn't have the stigma attached to it. Fast food, also.

Let's get those fat, drunk, smokin' bastards...

ms_canada 10 years ago

The Excise Tax and Duty was raised by Parliament in Nov. 2001 and is now $12.35 per carton in all of Canada. I don't know how many packages are in a carton. Some of you smokers should know that. Can anyone tell me what it is in Kansas.

JJHawq 10 years ago

.70 per pack if this site is any good.

Taxes by State

Not only would the marijuana tax lead to revenue for the state - it would lead to extra sales tax dollaars at Krispy Kreme, 7-11, Taco Bell, etc.

Flap Doodle 10 years ago

ms_c, the federal tax is $0.39 a pack. Each state also adds tax. The current tax per pack in Texas is $1.41.

spammer89 10 years ago

I agree if your going to tax smokers for being un-healthy tax everything that is bad for you.

tishthefish 10 years ago

The_Original_Bob (Anonymous) says:

"Whatatown -

Are you implying that we raise children for their organs? Interesting. That is an idea I can get behind."

LOL - excellent reply.

Stop picking on smokers - they're all huddled outside by the patio ash tray and they can't take much more stress.

JJHawq 10 years ago

That Bingo Tax needs to go up.

JJHawq 10 years ago

Old people play bingo more - and old people are a bigger drain on the health care system than young people - therefore, bingo should be taxed at a much higher rate to compensate.

Flap Doodle 10 years ago

They should tax "fat & spunky" cigarettes more heavily.

myopinion 10 years ago

janeyb says I'm stupid. I'm an idiot. Yep, you are. Overweight people have all of those problems as well, as does the aging population. And I have never seen a newspaper article that said a car wreck was caused by a person "under the influence of tobacco". You need to open your mind to all the problems that run up health care, including all the people who run to the emergency room for non-emergency problems.

ms_canada 10 years ago

Soooooooo, I did some checking around. TOB - .79 for a package of 20 or 7.90 for a carton of 10 pkgs. in Kansas as compared to 12.35 in Canada. or 1.23/pkg. Now about the price of a carton. As of 2002 stats a carton in Saskatchewan was $72.72, In Ontario it was $53.19. New York was $75.70. But I saw a website where you could order 3 cartons of Marlboros for $13.90 per carton. WOW, what the heck do those things taste like and what the heck do they do to your lungs. Sure glad that I quit smoking 50 years ago.

ms_canada 10 years ago

I didn't answer the question, yes of course, por supuesto, raise the tax on cigs. by all means.

mrmoth 10 years ago

FYI... For you smokers whining about the unfair taxing, let me let you in on something none of you seem to comprehend: your smoking annoys the hell out of people who don't smoke. You stink, you make other people stink and those of us with healthy lungs who spend any time near your smoke most definitely can feel a soreness in our throats, sinuses and lungs. Your problem is our problem and when it comes time to take care of funding issues, who wouldn't start with the people who annoy us most? psst... that's you

Fat people in McDonald's don't make me smell like french fries. People who don't exercise don't damage the respiratory systems of those of us who do. Old people playing bingo don't make me want to throw up when I walk by them. Do drunks who drive endanger us? You bet and we tax alcohol sales. I only wish the government would start selling marijuana so they could tax it too.

Don't like being the focus of all this attention? Stop being a problem.

mick 10 years ago

Subsidizing the Pharmaceutical and Medical industries is a big mistake. The majority of health problems today are iatrogenic.

Bone777 10 years ago

mrmouth - If you worked in the health care field you would see that the 'obese' folks cause more problems to our system than the 'people that annoy you'. Cigarette smokers might die of cancer or not, but obese people have all kinds of system failures that they seem to prolong their lives through. I have witnessed many more 'long-term medical problems' from the obese than I have from smokers.

Sorry for your annoyance, beaa aaaahhhhhh tchhhher.

mrmoth 10 years ago

I'm not denying that obese people are a problem unto themselves. Some of them choose that station in life some of them don't. All smokers choose to smoke. And none of them want to take responsibility for what their choices do to the rest of us.

Bone777 10 years ago

All I am saying is tax alcohol and fatty foods, also. If you want to blame someone for the health care problems, blame the ones that haven't had HUGE class action suits waged against them already.

grtrealtor 10 years ago

Quit picking on the smokers, who are already taxed to death. Why not just tax each alcoholic drink another quarter, and you'd be making 10 times the amount in additional tax. But people who drink don't bother you? Tell me that when the next drunk driver kills one of YOUR loved ones.

janeyb 10 years ago

I'm stupid. I'm an idiot. Please, tax the hell out of smokers.

"Cigarette smokers might die of cancer or not"

What a stupid statement. Smokers have a higher rate of all cancers, COPD, heart disease, diabetes, stroke, and they are noncompliant with treatment--because they won't quit smoking and they can't exercise. For that matter many smokers are obese--until the cancer hits or their struggle to breathe burns up all their calories.

kneejerkreaction 10 years ago

Cigarette smokers make me puke. That's why I smoke cigars.

bisky1 10 years ago

my experience tells me that most smokers are on the lower end of the pay scale and since the only good tax is a tax on the rich we should move this smokers tax to high priced wines and expensive automobiles, just divde the amount needed by the # of bottles of wine and bmw's and you got your revenue source.

Bill Chapman 10 years ago

I watched my grandfather die by inches when he was first diagnosed with colon cancer. After that was taken care of, he was diagnosed with terminal bone cancer 3 years later. Guess what - he smoked! - at least one pack a day. He didn't quit until the bone cancer was discovered and I think that was because some of the pain meds he was on caused him to puke his guts out if he was smoking when he used them. He almost existed (I won't call that living)for 18 months after the bone cancer was found. He had those lollipop pain suckers at the end - he was using them as fast as he could.

I'm sure that as a smoker(on medicaid) and living off of social security, he was NEVER an increased burden on the health care system. - If you believe that, I've got some swampland in Nevada guaranteed to have gold nuggets the size of your head for sale.

janeyb 10 years ago

"And I have never seen a newspaper article that said a car wreck was caused by a person "under the influence of tobacco."

A driver dropping a lit cigarette in his/her lap has never caused an accident? Give me a break. Smoking while you drive is just liking talking on a cell phone.

"You need to open your mind to all the problems that run up health care, including all the people who run to the emergency room for non-emergency problems."

Talk about stupid--this is no argument for not hiking the taxes on cigarettes. Cigarette smokers are going to wind up in the emergency room sooner than later---with kidney stones, bronchitis, deep vein thrombosis, heart attack, stroke, diabetes, dementia, diseased gall bladder, pancreatitis--all more prominent in smokers. But in their 40's, 50' and 60's, not their 80's, and they will keep on smoking, so therefore, they are basically showing up in the ER with unsolvable problems. And since the big anti-cigarette tax argument is that it is the working poor who smoke, so the tax punishes the poor, they likely have no health insurance. Tax the cigarettes.

Left_handed 9 years, 12 months ago

Just ban tobacco. There is no form of it that isn't harmful. It serves no purpose. Eliminate the problem by proscribing the stuff in the US. Then when the black market hits there will be a much greater revenue stream in fines (like for pot and other illicit drugs) than the paltry tax revenue that they are getting now.

TAX_PAYER 9 years, 11 months ago

Sometimes in life you don't have a choice, You stop and think about all the people in power,It brings pain deep inside,But in your mind it all remains a mystery on how easily You can be deceived and still not know the power that You hold,This could not be told to someone who will not hear the Truth, So if You could be so bold could you take the time to remember our precious Youth, They must live with what we have created,We should set things straight judge no words overrated take the time to listen and define for words You hear spoke may be proven false through time, this is how I know it was all a joke ,Taking control of lives choosing who live and dies "government" can We Trust can You tell Me how to decide to possess the knowledge that we need,We shall no longer be deceived,All these People in disgust,When ALL we ever new was in GOD WE TRUST !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Linda Endicott 9 years, 11 months ago

I do find it so amusing that all of the holier-than-thou non-smokers seem to believe that they will never get lung cancer, or COPD, or bronchitis, or asthma, or any other lung problem, ever...and with all the factory fumes, radial tire particles, and car exhaust in the air, you really think that your lungs are pure as the driven snow? Anything that burns releases the same toxins as mean to say you have never, ever, been around anything in your lives that has been burned?? You've never been around any type of smoke, ever?

How sheltered you have been...

JayhawksandHerd 9 years, 11 months ago

"If that money is used for health care or medical research, it will be money well spent."

Here's an idea, Doug...maybe that money should be earmarked for, oh, I don't know...treatment of smoking-related illnesses? Establishment of cessation programs where none currently exist? After all, the complaint from non-smokers is that they don't want to be held financially accountable for smokers' health problems, right? That being the case, why should any of this revenue go towards anything not related to smoking? If that's the case, I think the tax is a fine idea, but I'll believe it when I see it.

OnlyTheOne 9 years, 11 months ago

Politicians, like everyone else, need to learn to live within their means - not ours! As for smokers using the health system more - I once worked at a business - mostly yuppies - that spent $106 for every $100 of premiums! They were sick constantly.

Dixie Jones 9 years, 11 months ago

i think SMOKERS should be banned not just

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