Monday, December 01, 2008

A tax increase I can agree with

State Rep. David Watkins, a Henderson physician, said he's planning to reintroduce his proposal to raise the state's cigarette tax by 70 cents. Watkins, a Democrat, pushed the cigarette tax hike earlier this year, but it stalled.

Watkins said raising the tax to $1 per pack likely would generate more than $200 million in revenue. It would also benefit the state long-term by improving citizens' health and reducing state-funded medical costs, Watkins said.

"This is when we need leadership," Watkins said. "We need to have leaders stand up and lead and show that they have some backbone, and that they have some fortitude to stand up and make our state a prosperous and healthy state."

I hope Dr Watkins can get this passed this time. Smokers are a huge drain on our health care resources. Kentucky has one of the lowest taxes on cigarettes and is has one of the highest rates of smokers.

Last week a new cancer study was released and congratulations to Kentucky for having the highest cancer death rate (218.7 per 100,000 people) in the nation. Since cigarette smokers account for nearly a third of U.S. cancer deaths it should be no surprise.

I would propose however that all taxes from cigarettes do not go in the general fund but go directly towards offsetting the states Medicaid overrun. The bill may well garner more support if the taxpayer thinks it won't get pissed away as easily as the rest of our tax dollars that disappear into the that black abyss of the general fund.

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